Governor cites four areas of accomplishment

January 17, 2002

Excerpts from Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address:

For the eighth time I come before you to deliver the State of the State. But before I report to you on the progress we have made in the last year, I want to take just a moment and reflect on what we have accomplished. ...

Eight years ago, Maryland was in the bottom 10 in job creation. By last year, we had overtaken 26 states to be ranked 15th in the nation. In the last eight years, the rate of violent crime committed with a gun in Maryland has dropped by 40 percent. ... Today, 100,000 more children have health insurance, and we have the lowest child-poverty rate in the nation.

Eight years ago, few of our schools were connected to the Internet; today they are all connected and Maryland is a leader in K-through-12 education. We are first in the nation in high school graduation; we have added and modernized classrooms all across this state; and we have raised teacher salaries. By the time Kathleen [Kennedy Townsend] and I leave office, we will have increased funding for education by 70 percent in just eight years. Think about it: That is more than $1 billion in new money dedicated each year to education in this state.

Eight years ago, Maryland was being devoured by development. Today, our state sets the national standard for Smart Growth and we are - for the first time in history - preserving more land than we are developing. In fact, one million acres of Maryland is now permanently protected from development. ...

By any objective measure ... life in Maryland has gotten better in the last eight years. ... When toxic pfisteria threatened the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland met the challenge and raised the protection of this beautiful body of water to new levels. When the gun lobby tried to stop us from instituting sensible tough new restrictions on buying guns, Maryland met the challenge, and today we have the strictest gun laws in the nation. And when the titans from the tobacco industry tried to take us on, Maryland met the challenge.

In fact, I look back in amazement at what together we have accomplished. I take the most pride and satisfaction in four achievements: We are putting tobacco out of business in Maryland; we gave higher education the prominence and resources to make Maryland's colleges and universities the best in the nation, and along the way we made it possible for many more Marylanders to go to college; we made Maryland the model of Smart Growth and environmental protection; and we worked hard to make Maryland a fairer, more tolerant and just place to raise a family and run a business.

You know, for me, the tobacco fight was personal. I know, just as does Cal Ripken - who is here with us today - I know the horror of watching someone you love die because they smoked. We're making a difference. ... Today, because we want to protect our people from secondhand smoke, Maryland has the most stringent ban on smoking in public places in America. And soon, tobacco will no longer be a Maryland crop. We are helping our tobacco farmers put their fields to better use - effectively ending Maryland's history as a tobacco state.

Today, Maryland is a national leader in higher education. Every school within the University System of Maryland can point with pride to accomplishments: The University of Maryland School of Nursing and School of Pharmacy are ranked in the top 10 by the U.S. News & World Report; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is ranked in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. ... The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has added 17 new degree programs over the last 10 years and is a leader in graduating African Americans in biological and life sciences. And 10 years ago, only one undergraduate program at the University of Maryland, College Park was ranked in the top 25. Today, 61 programs at College Park are ranked in the nation's top 25. ...

In Maryland, we know that higher education is a priority, not just a luxury. We have made our higher education system a powerful engine for future prosperity in the knowledge-based economy. And it's also important that we remember, however, that knowledge is important for knowledge's sake - not just as an economic development tool. Higher education is essential in achieving both a thriving economy and a civil society. History clearly shows that educated democracies do not attack other educated democracies. That is why over the last eight years, just as we did with elementary and secondary education, we have increased support to our colleges, universities and community colleges by 70 percent. ...

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