The text of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address delivered to a joint session of the Maryland House and Senate yesterday:
Senate President Mike Miller; Speaker Cas Taylor; members of the General Assembly; Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Attorney General Joe Curran; Comptroller Bobby Swann; Comptroller-elect William Donald Schaefer; Treasurer Richard Dixon; Chief Judge Bob Bell; Secretary of State John Willis; my wife, Frances Anne, who, if I might be permitted the personal privilege, I happen to believe is one of the truly gracious and most beautiful First Ladies in the entire country; friends and fellow Marylanders:
You know for the first time in 40 years, the governor of Maryland begins the State of the State without also recognizing Louis L. Goldstein as comptroller. In fact, if you take into account the 16 years that Louis served here in the General Assembly, you come to the remarkable realization that Louis was in attendance for more than half the State of the State addresses of this century.
We miss you Louie. We miss his wisdom, his guidance and his compassion. But we're also grateful for the decades of public service that he gave to Maryland. And we are confident that Louis' commitment to sound fiscal management and compassionate government has taken strong roots here in Maryland. And that he will continue to guide our actions well into the century. I am also so very, very pleased that his daughter, Louisa, is here with us today. Louisa ...
Today marks the last State of the State address that will be delivered in Maryland this century. You have been chosen by your fellow citizens to be part of the leadership that will take Maryland into the 21st century. For me personally, and for most people everywhere, the onset of a new century is a source of pride and excitement and enthusiasm. It is an opportunity to reflect upon what we have accomplished together, and to look ahead to the unlimited opportunities and the significant challenges that we face.
By any measure, we have seen great progress in recent years. Investments in education and student achievement are up. We opened the doors of higher education for more Marylanders. Crime is down significantly. Our economy is the strongest in a decade. Income taxes were cut for the first time in 30 years. Welfare rolls have been reduced by more than one half. Our air and water quality are cleaner and better protected. And we reached out with care and compassion to those less fortunate.
Without a doubt, the State of the State is strong. We are safer. Our children are healthier. Our environment is better protected. And we are more prosperous than we have ever been before.
Thank you Mr. President and thank you Mr. Speaker and members of the legislature for your leadership and hard work in achieving these wonderful goals. And perhaps, most of all, thanks are due to the hard working men and women of Maryland, whose commitment to family and community and traditional Maryland values are the heart of our prosperity. Together we have done much, but, as I said yesterday in my inaugural address, we have only just begun.
As we noted yesterday, we enter the new century facing several major challenges: helping all our citizens reach their full potential in the knowledge-based economy of the future; reclaiming our environment for future generations to enjoy; and fostering a true sense of compassion, social justice, and equality within our society.
We have an exciting and aggressive agenda that will position Maryland to meet and master most of those challenges as we move into the 21st century. We will increase funding for worker training programs, sending a very clear signal that Maryland knows that high-tech, high-skilled jobs are a very important part of our future. We will build upon our Smart Growth anti-sprawl program, protecting farms, fields, rivers and streams, while reinvigorating established neighborhoods.
We will enact a civil rights bill that will strengthen Maryland's anti-discrimination protection for all Marylanders, including those discriminated against because of their choice of sexual partner. We will move forward with a patients' bill of rights that builds upon the patient protections that have already been enshrined in law. We will work to make sure that those with disabilities have the opportunity to meet their full potential. And we will begin the process of strengthening our anti-gun violence law so that we can pass a strong bill that better protects our children and saves lives.