Speech focuses on five people who put a `Maryland face' on key issues

January 30, 2003

The following quotes are excerpts from the State of the State address delivered yesterday by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at the State House in Annapolis:

Maryland is one of the most successful states in the nation. We possess excellent institutions of higher education, health care, national defense and scientific research. ...

Our citizens are highly educated and our per-capita personal income is the sixth-highest in the nation. Yet many of the same issues debated during my tenure here [as a legislator] remain so difficult, so intractable, that we tend to lose sight of the human face associated with these challenges.

Sometimes, we need to see, to touch, to feel as legislators -- and I was a legislator for 16 years [in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.] -- the real impact of these issues on the lives of citizens in order to better understand them.

Sitting in front of you today are five individuals who help us put a "Maryland face" on these issues. ...

Chesapeake Bay

Captain Bob Newberry: ...

Today, Bob fishes and crabs and harvests oysters, and farms and operates one of the few aquaculture farms on the Eastern Shore. He has been a waterman since he was 15 years old. ...

Three years ago, he became a part-time charter boat captain. New regulations have harmed his ability to do his job. A significant drop in the bay's oyster and crab populations is also threatening his livelihood. ...

The Chesapeake Bay is the heart of our economic, ecological and recreational life. It defines us. ...

One day, in the not-too-distant future, there may be no fish, oysters or crabs to catch, unless we upgrade our 66 major municipal sewage-treatment plants.

My capital budget makes a $95 million down payment in this area. We will need to secure more dollars from the federal government in order to complete this critical task. ...

We can protect the bay without unduly penalizing the good people who earn their livelihood from it. We've heard the phrase "politics ends at the water's edge" a lot since 9/11. I believe that thought applies to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay as well.

Education

Meet Adela Acosta: ...

Principal, Cesar Chavez Elementary School [in Prince George's County]. African-American, 49 percent; Hispanic, 47 percent; white, 4 percent. Percentage of kids receiving Title I funding, 99 percent.

Born Puerto Rico. Raised in Spanish Harlem. Father a heroin addict. Labeled learning-impaired. Placed in special education classes in first grade. A social worker placement landed her in Catholic school at age 6. But her academic struggles continued. You see, she could not speak English. ...

One day, she informed her eighth-grade teacher that she wanted herself to become a teacher. The teacher advised her to go into show business because her people were "so good at it." She didn't take that ethnic prejudice lying down. Adela overcame it. She decided to follow her heart. ...

Today, the little girl who was once dismissed as learning-impaired is a nationally recognized educator. ...

She's been named a national role model for education reform by the first lady. She's been appointed commissioner by President Bush to the Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

Adela lives No Child Left Behind. No child is left behind at Cesar Chavez.

She knows that every student deserves an even playing field, and that funding the Thornton Commission is critical to her mission. I agree. Our budget increases education aid $242 million -- including $148 million under the Thornton formula.

She knows that social promotion policy only hurts kids and sends the wrong message to taxpayers.

She and I support the establishment of another commission, Thornton II, devoted to an examination of how we teach, of education policy in the state of Maryland. Lieutenant Governor Steele will lead this important effort.

Finally, Adela is an articulate spokesman for a real charter schools bill that will encourage competition in our public school system. It is time for this assembly to enact a charter schools bill with teeth -- and I ask you to do it this year.

Drug treatment

Meet Keith Daye. Graduate, Northwestern High School, 1975. ... Lives in Baltimore. Forty-five years old.

Married 14 years. ... Three children. Member, New Shiloh Baptist Church. Family man. Assistant manager at Sheraton Inner Harbor, 2001 employee of the year at the Sheraton.

Homeless from 1996 to 1999. Twenty-five-year addiction to heroin.

His life changed when he connected with the Helping Up Mission, a faith-based organization based in Baltimore. ... Program graduates have an 80 percent chance of being employed and sober a year after entering the program.

Keith continues to work his recovery program. He is clean, sober and helping people by volunteering at the mission. Keith, congratulations.

Keith makes me believe. We all need to believe. ...

Last night, the president talked about a war against international terror. In Maryland, we have an internal war against another enemy -- drugs.

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