`State is strong and prosperous'

State Of The State Address

January 18, 2001

This is the prepared text of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address, delivered yesterday:

Senate President Mike Miller, Speaker Cas Taylor, members of the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Chief Judge Bob Bell, Attorney General Joe Curran, Treasurer Richard Dixon, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, Secretary of State John Willis, friends and fellow Marylanders:

It is my pleasure and great honor to come before you once again to deliver the State of the State. It gives me great pride to report to you that the state of Maryland is strong and prosperous. In fact - because of our work together - the state of Maryland is much stronger and much more prosperous than it has ever been in our history. Let us not forget, however, that while our polices set the stage for this prosperity, it is the hard-working men and women of Maryland who are the true drivers of our success.

This has been an extraordinary year. In fact, it has been an extraordinary string of years. When we first came together in this great and historic chamber six years ago, I doubt that many of us foresaw the remarkable heights of progress and prosperity that we would reach. I recall the challenges that greeted us when we began our partnership. As always, Maryland stood as a great, wealthy, proud state. But the people of Maryland were concerned, as they faced low job growth, made worse by the misperception of Maryland as a high-tax state; fiscal instability; an uneven commitment to education, especially higher education; increasing crime; an environment threatened by sprawl and pollution; and older communities in decline. Together we went to work and our work has paid off.

Today Maryland has one of the nation's strongest economies. Jobs are at an all-time high. Unemployment is near an all-time low. We have the highest family income in the nation. We have one of the lowest overall poverty rates in the country. And - something of which the lieutenant governor and I are particularly proud - we have one of the lowest children's poverty rates in the country. And at the same time we cut 28 taxes, returning nearly $2.6 billion to taxpayers, including the first income tax cut in 30 years. Cas, I thank you for your leadership in enacting those tax cuts.

Today - with your help and support - our budget is fiscally sound. In fact, we begin the fiscal year with a $375 million surplus.

Together, we made education the number one priority of Maryland. This year our schools will receive $2.6 billion in state aid. That is $1 billion more than they received the year the lieutenant governor and I took office. We also began the golden age of school construction, with $1.6 billion in funding to build and modernize over 13,000 classrooms all across Maryland. And higher education is being elevated to its proper status as a top state priority, not just a budgetary afterthought.

Today, under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Townsend, Attorney General Curran, [state police Superintendent] Colonel Mitchell , the courts and our legislative leaders, the crime rate in Maryland is at its lowest level in 25 years.

And today - as Smart Growth has taken hold in Maryland - our older neighborhoods are seeing new vitality, and our environment is better protected for our children and our children's children.

We have also become a national leader on a number of critical issues. Thanks to the leadership of people like Senator Chris Van Hollen, we are a leader in the fight against gun violence. Leaders like Delegate Sandy Rosenberg helped make Maryland a national model in the battle against cancer and tobacco addiction. And I thank people like Delegate Mike Busch for helping to bring health care to our children. I stress, however, that we must resist the temptation to see our success as proof of a job completed. For the truth is, our job is not done. Yes, we met many challenges over the last six years. Economically, educationally and socially, we are enjoying the best of times. Indeed, the sun shines brightly upon Maryland.

There are, however, clouds on the horizon that threaten to destroy our great success and prosperity. Seeding these clouds are three great unmet needs: in higher education, environmental protection and ensuring a greater sense of justice, fairness and inclusion. These are the three challenges we face in this new century. These challenges top my legislative agenda.

We will open wider the door of opportunity to all Marylanders with a strong and unwavering commitment to higher education. We will lift up and breathe new life into all of our communities - and protect our open spaces - by taking the next bold steps in Smart Growth. And we will move Maryland closer to our most fundamental values by embracing greater justice, fairness and inclusion. I recognize that these challenges are not new, but we must view them with a new urgency.

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