Glendening's vision for Maryland in 2000...

State of the State: Education, managed growth and tolerance hold key to state's prosperity.

January 20, 2000

IN HIS sixth annual State of the State address yesterday, Gov. Parris N. Glendening gave lawmakers a lecture on what he sees as Maryland's ideal future.

Three "values" dominated the governor's speech: Assuring access to education to every Marylander; pumping life and vitality into existing cities and neighborhoods; and "fostering a deep sense of inclusion, justice and equality."

Fine ideals. Nice vision. But where were the specifics? Mr. Glendening, like a good politician, proclaimed that "teachers need a pay raise" so they draw a "family-supporting, professional salary." He said state aid to local governments had risen 40 percent in five years -- $800 million -- but that this hasn't translated into higher teacher pay.

Yet nowhere in the governor's budget is there money for that. If Mr. Glendening doesn't like the way localities are spending state dollars, he could do something about it. He chose not to.

Similarly, the governor wants local governments to pay the prevailing, or union, wage on school projects. That's self-defeating if Mr. Glendening seeks to build as many schools as possible. His plan would inflate construction costs.

On growth issues, Mr. Glendening called for state building codes. In theory, this seems sensible. But the details haven't been released. Instead, the governor played political hardball by tying $150 million in neighborhood revitalization money to local approval of this still-vague proposal. That could end up denying revitalization money in the most needed areas.

Finally, Mr. Glendening talked of outlawing discrimination -- an indirect reference to the gay rights bill he proposed last session. He spoke of the need to "stand up, be heard and be counted." But he failed to say he would sponsor such a bill this session.

Give the governor credit: He laid out a vision for tomorrow; he put his greatest stress on education, where it belongs.

Now it's a matter of showing more commitment and embracing policies that get us closer to achieving this vision -- not further away from it.

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