For Seniors: $7.3 million for 1,000 additional placements for the Medicaid Older Adults Waiver to move people out of nursing homes and back into their homes.

  • For Youth: $1 million for a Juvenile Services Drug Court Initiative to help Maryland’s youth get the drug treatment they need without needlessly filling up state juvenile facilities.

  • For people with mental illness: An overall $66 million increase for FY 03 and FY 04 for the Mental Hygiene Administration community services budget. This money will help restore our public mental health system to ensure that it cares for people in the community again.

  • An overall $66 million increase for FY 03 and FY 04 for the Mental Hygiene Administration community services budget.

    This is a new day in Maryland. We must usher all Marylanders into the 21st Century by moving people out of institutions and into communities, where they live, learn, work and thrive like everyone else. It is time to give every Marylander the tools and opportunities to make their own choices.

    Our last guest is not with us today.

    Rio-Jarell Tatum was the son of John S. Tatum and Roxanne Servance. They raised the kind of kid that would make any parent proud. Rio graduated from Baltimore’s Polytechnic Institute’s rigorous A Course in June 2001. At Poly, he was captain of the baseball and soccer teams. People remember his blazing fastball as well as seeming inexhaustibility on the athletic field. Others recall his polite, confident, self-assured manner.

    But his academic prowess stands out the most. He was a member of the National Honor Society, earning an incredible 3.97 grade point average. In September 2001 he entered Penn State with a full scholarship.

    On May 26, 2002, an armed robber shot Rio on a Baltimore street. He died at Shock Trauma. I wish I’d had the chance to meet this exceptional young man. The things that made a big difference in his life -- sports, scholarships, and family -- also impacted mine.

    Here is a kid who did everything right, yet still became a victim of the gun violence sweeping our state’s largest city. Rio’s story should be a wake-up call for all of us. As long as gun-toting criminals roam our streets and communities, no one -- not even the best and brightest among us -- is safe. That is why it is time to bring Project Exile to Maryland.

    During its first year in Richmond, Va., Project Exile cut violent crime in half. It is time we bring this successful program to Maryland, too. Thank you, John Tatum and Roxanne Servance, for joining us here today.

    These are just a few of the fascinating people I met during the journey that ultimately brought Kendel, Drew, Michael, Andrea, and I to Annapolis. As we go about the business of getting our fiscal house in order and making difficult decisions about spending priorities, let’s keep in mind these, and so many other faces of Maryland who depend on us to protect them from injustice, provide a cleaner environment, guarantee a quality education, provide temporary assistance when needed, and make our streets safer.

    We have an opportunity and an obligation to do great things in each of these critical areas. For that to happen, we must fully embrace the spirit of cooperation I first encountered in these halls as a young legislator so many years ago. That spirit has stayed with me throughout my public service career, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to bring it back here.

    Of course, we will disagree at times, sometimes vigorously. But I am confident these disagreements will not undermine our ability to achieve progress. That is what the citizens of Maryland deserve. Maryland faces problems that are daunting, not insurmountable. None will stand when confronted with the energy and enterprise of the people in this room.

    I look forward to working closely with each of you. Together we have the chance to change Maryland. Thank you and God bless you.