Build on a solid record Candidates' visions for the 21st century

October 29, 1998|By Parris N. Glendening

LT. GOV. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I have enjoyed a successful first term. We have made tremendous strides working with the legislature, local officials and Maryland's citizens.

Now our thoughts turn to the future. We have a clear vision of where we want Maryland to go, and how we will get there. It is a vision based on our philosophy that government can, and does, make a positive difference in people's lives.

First, providing a good education for the state's children is our top priority. The past four years have brought dramatic improvement to our schools. Funding for school construction doubled, with 6,000 classrooms added or modernized. Student achievement continues to rise, and a college education is more affordable and accessible.

In our next term, we will build and renovate 7,500 classrooms and hire 1,100 more teachers to reduce class size. We will make "character education" curriculum a part of every school to help teach core values, such as honesty, fairness, respect and responsibility. We want to ensure that every child who earns the right to go to college, can go to college.

Tough on crime

Also, Kathleen and I fought aggressively against crime. We passed the nation's toughest anti-gun violence law. We launched the Hot Spots initiative, putting more police in high crime areas, and we eliminated parole for violent offenders. As a result of our tough stance against guns, crime in Maryland is dropping twice as fast as the national average, and juvenile crime is down for the first time in nine years.

There is, however, more to do. We will triple the size of our Hot Spots program and ban the sale of handguns that are not "child-proof." Also, we have a detailed plan for achieving a 50-percent reduction in gun-related violence by 2002.

While protecting our neighborhoods, we will also protect our land and water from polluters and reckless development. That is why we are rehabilitating 60,000 acres of wetlands, planting 600 miles of trees along waterways and setting aside thousands of acres for open spaces. That's also why we took decisive action to combat Pfiesteria. Eventually, our goal is to preserve and protect 200,000 acres from development.

We will continue to protect the heart and soul of Maryland -- the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, we will revitalize established bTC neighborhoods through our anti-sprawl program known as smart growth. Already, neighborhoods like Highlandtown feel the positive effects of smart growth. Businesses and families are returning and soon will become a strength in our already booming economy.

Cutting welfare rolls

Our efforts to fortify our economy have reaped results. We are now fifth in the nation in new business starts, the third highest in family income, and we have cut our welfare rolls in half. Some 159,000 additional jobs were created during the past four years. Our job-growth rate exceeded the national average last year, moving Maryland from 44th to 16th since I was elected.

This marks the first time in 52 years that Maryland has gone through a gubernatorial term without a tax increase or the creation of any new taxes.

We reduced or eliminated 15 business taxes and cut the personal income tax by 10 percent for all citizens. We streamlined regulatory and permit requirements and made targeted investments to attract jobs.

The truest lesson Kathleen and I have learned is that when we work together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

We have a vision of a fair, inclusive, just and compassionate society, with a booming economy and a deep respect for our environment. Marylanders should seek nothing less.

Parris N. Glendening is the Democratic candidate for governor.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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