Text of address by Glendening to legislators

January 20, 2000

Here are excerpts from Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address, delivered yesterday to a joint session of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates:

Today it is my unique privilege as governor to deliver the first State of the State address of the new century. And it is my great honor to present a vision of our state's future to all of you. To you who are the leaders who will help determine the path Maryland will follow in this new era.

I know that all of you share the tremendous excitement and enthusiasm that I feel at the dawn of this new century. This is the moment to be true to our values, bold in our goals, far-reaching in our actions and unlimited in our vision. Now is the time to look to the furthest horizons, to push the boundaries of our children's potential and our state's promise. What better time to ask: Where do we want Maryland to go? Not just this session, but this century?

My fellow Marylanders, as we ask these questions, we realize that we begin this new century in an extraordinary place: The State of our State is prosperous and strong. Because of our work together, life is better for the people of Maryland, our children's futures are brighter, our communities are safer and our environment is healthier.

Because of our work together, our economy is booming. More people are working. Our unemployment rate is now at the all-time low, the lowest it's ever been in the history of this state. Families are earning more. We enjoy the second highest family income in the nation, and fewer people are being left behind. In fact, we have the lowest overall poverty rate in the nation and the lowest child poverty rate in the entire country.

Perhaps the best measure of the wisdom and effectiveness of all of our policies is the remarkable state surplus -- a $940 million surplus. And this is even after enacting 21 tax cuts that has put $2.4 billion back into the hands of our citizens. And we will receive an additional $1.4 billion this decade as part of the tobacco settlement. Without question, Maryland's economy is thriving, our finances are strong, and we are anticipating even greater economic success.

We lay the foundation for this success with every step we take to improve education: hiring new teachers, reducing class size, making it easier for our children to get the individual attention they deserve and giving teachers the tools they need to spark young minds and imaginations. We have intensified our efforts to build, renovate and modernize classrooms all across Maryland.

We are connecting every school to the Internet, and we are building state-of-the-art science and computer labs in schools in our older communities. We have opened the doors of higher education for our young people with Maryland's Hope Scholarship Program. We will pay for every high school student to attend any college or university in Maryland, if he or she gets good grades and agrees to work in Maryland after graduation.

Together, we listened to the families and children of Maryland and made our communities and neighborhoods safer and more secure. Crime in Maryland -- especially violent crime -- has declined significantly. Working with you, with the police and with the lieutenant governor, we have reduced violent crime by 18 percent since we came into office.

Let me put that success in more human terms. Because of our work together, almost 20,000 of our fellow Marylanders did not become victims of violent crime since this administration began. Twenty thousand of our neighbors are safe today because of what we have done together.

As we worked together to strengthen our economy, educate our children and protect our communities from crime and violence, we also protected our land, air and water from polluters and irresponsible development. We now understand that the growth patterns we saw in the past half-century are not only harmful to the environment and to our existing communities, but also are costly to our taxpayers.

We came together and established Maryland's pioneering Smart Growth initiative to fight sprawl: We no longer provide state support for unplanned or poorly planned development. We are breathing new life into our neighborhoods and downtowns all across Maryland.

We permanently preserved and protected over 187,000 acres of our most precious land in just the last five years. And today -- for the first time in the history of our state -- we are now preserving more productive farmland and forest land than we are losing to development.

We can take great pride knowing that as the final chapter is written on Maryland's 20th century, it will be clear that we had our priorities correct. We strengthened our economy, we focused on our schools, we made our communities safer, and we protected and preserved our environment. I applaud you, Mr. President, and you, Mr. Speaker, and members of the General Assembly for your wisdom and for your leadership in these efforts. Thank you for what you have done.

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