Text of Glendening's State of State address

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The text of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's State of the State address delivered to a joint session of the Maryland House and Senate yesterday:

Senate President Mike Miller; Speaker Cas Taylor; members of the General Assembly; Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Attorney General Joe Curran; Comptroller Bobby Swann; Comptroller-elect William Donald Schaefer; Treasurer Richard Dixon; Chief Judge Bob Bell; Secretary of State John Willis; my wife, Frances Anne, who, if I might be permitted the personal privilege, I happen to believe is one of the truly gracious and most beautiful First Ladies in the entire country; friends and fellow Marylanders:

You know for the first time in 40 years, the governor of Maryland begins the State of the State without also recognizing Louis L. Goldstein as comptroller. In fact, if you take into account the 16 years that Louis served here in the General Assembly, you come to the remarkable realization that Louis was in attendance for more than half the State of the State addresses of this century.

We miss you Louie. We miss his wisdom, his guidance and his compassion. But we're also grateful for the decades of public service that he gave to Maryland. And we are confident that Louis' commitment to sound fiscal management and compassionate government has taken strong roots here in Maryland. And that he will continue to guide our actions well into the century. I am also so very, very pleased that his daughter, Louisa, is here with us today. Louisa ...

Today marks the last State of the State address that will be delivered in Maryland this century. You have been chosen by your fellow citizens to be part of the leadership that will take Maryland into the 21st century. For me personally, and for most people everywhere, the onset of a new century is a source of pride and excitement and enthusiasm. It is an opportunity to reflect upon what we have accomplished together, and to look ahead to the unlimited opportunities and the significant challenges that we face.

By any measure, we have seen great progress in recent years. Investments in education and student achievement are up. We opened the doors of higher education for more Marylanders. Crime is down significantly. Our economy is the strongest in a decade. Income taxes were cut for the first time in 30 years. Welfare rolls have been reduced by more than one half. Our air and water quality are cleaner and better protected. And we reached out with care and compassion to those less fortunate.

Without a doubt, the State of the State is strong. We are safer. Our children are healthier. Our environment is better protected. And we are more prosperous than we have ever been before.

Thank you Mr. President and thank you Mr. Speaker and members of the legislature for your leadership and hard work in achieving these wonderful goals. And perhaps, most of all, thanks are due to the hard working men and women of Maryland, whose commitment to family and community and traditional Maryland values are the heart of our prosperity. Together we have done much, but, as I said yesterday in my inaugural address, we have only just begun.

As we noted yesterday, we enter the new century facing several major challenges: helping all our citizens reach their full potential in the knowledge-based economy of the future; reclaiming our environment for future generations to enjoy; and fostering a true sense of compassion, social justice, and equality within our society.

We have an exciting and aggressive agenda that will position Maryland to meet and master most of those challenges as we move into the 21st century. We will increase funding for worker training programs, sending a very clear signal that Maryland knows that high-tech, high-skilled jobs are a very important part of our future. We will build upon our Smart Growth anti-sprawl program, protecting farms, fields, rivers and streams, while reinvigorating established neighborhoods.

We will enact a civil rights bill that will strengthen Maryland's anti-discrimination protection for all Marylanders, including those discriminated against because of their choice of sexual partner. We will move forward with a patients' bill of rights that builds upon the patient protections that have already been enshrined in law. We will work to make sure that those with disabilities have the opportunity to meet their full potential. And we will begin the process of strengthening our anti-gun violence law so that we can pass a strong bill that better protects our children and saves lives.

Additionally, we will make sure that our state employees, the hard working men and women, are treated as partners as we serve the people of Maryland. Collective bargaining is working in Maryland and it should be the law of the land. We will also move a number of contractual employees into permanent status. Think about this just for a moment: These are people who work side by side with merit employees, doing the same job, but without receiving health or retirement benefits. That is unfair, and it must be changed.

We will also fight to protect the health of our young people with an increase in the state's tobacco tax. Studies show a significant price increase will have a dramatic impact on reducing teen smoking. This increase will not only protect the health of our young people today, but will also help secure their future. I propose that a significant portion of the revenue from this tax be used to construct much needed higher education facilities.

For example, with these revenues, we can help the University of Maryland, Baltimore County get the science and technology building that they need now, instead of the year 2010 where it's currently programmed.

And, as I emphasized yesterday, it is crucial that we protect our environment, our environmental infrastructure - our green infrastructure. Tax dollars will no longer be used to subsidize sprawl. State funds will only be spent in accordance with Smart Growth guidelines.

These proposals and others will position Maryland as a national and world leader for the next century. Today, however, I will focus almost exclusively on the single most important issue to which we must dedicate ourselves in order to meet our full potential: We must build upon the foundation we have laid, and make - truly make - the education of our children our top priority. Education must not just be "a" priority, it must be "the" priority.

The future of our world is fast becoming knowledge based. And the speed of that transformation is dramatic: A few years ago, advances in biotechnology like cloning and DNA fingerprinting were relegated to science fiction novels. Today they are scientific fact. And just earlier this decade, the Internet was primarily the domain of scientists and university researchers. Today pre-schoolers and senior citizens are learning, shopping, and staying in touch over the World Wide Web.

Nowhere is this emphasis on knowledge more pronounced than in the job market. A strong back and a solid work ethic no longer guarantee a secure, good-paying job. Individuals who do not have access to knowledge and skills will find themselves left behind. As I mentioned yesterday, it was a shameful time in American history when signs read "Irish need not apply," "no Jews," "no women," and "whites only." Those signs shut out so many Americans and divided us as a nation.

Today we face a different challenge. We must liberate the potential of every individual by full access to knowledge or they will be shut out in the future just as others were in the past. And our nation will be just as divided.

That is why we must turn our focus squarely to education, both access to education and the quality of education. We must ensure - no, we must demand - both.

Let me tell you this story about what I saw as the power of education. Last year I visited a school in Montgomery County, Oak View Elementary. And I read to the third graders there. Senator Forehand was there with us in fact. I read to the third graders. And afterwards I went into the cafeteria and had lunch, and as I sat there and talked with those young people, first of all, they were absolutely right, the pizza was terrible. But I was looking at this one young man, directly across from me, a young African- American student, and I asked him, "Where do you go from here?"

And he looked at me, and his face started beaming and he got this huge smile and he said, "I'm going to the University of Wisconsin to study marine biology!"

And I said to him, "No, no, no, I just meant where do you go to middle school?"

And he said, "I don't know. I'm going to the University of Wisconsin to study marine biology!"

I want to see that same enthusiasm, that same wonderful glow and hope for the future on the face of every student, in every school, in every community in this state.

And that is why our agenda touches on the entire spectrum of education in Maryland - from pre-school through 12th grade, through higher education, to adult education, retraining and skill enhancement. Workers need more than one ability or one job for a lifetime. In the 21st century, the greatest skill will be the capacity to acquire new skills. In the new economy, acquiring knowledge will be a lifelong journey, not just a destination to be reached.

In order to make this journey successful, we must ensure the best possible beginning. Mastering the fundamentals of reading and math is critical to success in education. And it is just common sense that the best way to ensure our children master the basics of reading and math is to increase the amount of individual attention they receive in these core subjects. And that is why we will reduce class size for reading in first and second grade and for math in the seventh grade.

Our formula for continuing to improve education is really very simple: More classrooms, plus additional, qualified, certified teachers, equals smaller class size. And smaller class size for early reading and math means a better education for every child.

Over the past four years we have built or modernized 6,000 classrooms across Maryland. We now have the opportunity and the ability to think bigger, reach further and do more.

As we find ourselves at the dawn of a new century, let us also stand at the beginning of the "Golden Age of School Construction." We propose to invest $250 million to modernize and build schools this year, and the same amount for each of the following years of this term. Imagine, $1 billion over the next four years which will enable us to build or modernize more than 7,500 classrooms across the state.

With our commitment to add and renovate and modernize classrooms locked in, we will then provide funding to local communities so that they will hire 1,100 additional teachers - over and above normal teacher hirings - to be used for first and second grade reading and seventh grade math classes. I stress that these new teachers must be certified in their areas of instruction.

Remember, our focus is on access and quality. The modernized classrooms provide the access, but we must ensure the quality of the teachers. Our [students] deserve this; their parents demand this; and our teachers themselves expect this.

Right now there are far too many teachers who are not certified to teach in their area of instruction. Imagine, a math teacher who is not trained to teach math. We are one of the few advanced countries in the world that permit this. It is easy, therefore, to understand why we lag behind so much of the world in math skills. This is unacceptable, and it must change. Our children deserve better.

We will require that jurisdictions reduce their percentage of non-certified teachers to no more than 2 percent in order to qualify for funds under our class-size reduction program. Let me just tell you, as an aside, last year in my home county of Prince George's County, over 40 percent of the new teachers hired were not certified in their area of instruction. This is not right.

As we move forward with our class-size reduction plan, we must simultaneously take strategic steps to ensure sufficient, certified teachers are available well into the future. With your help the HOPE scholarship program was initiated last year for science and technology students. We now have the opportunity and the ability to think bigger, to reach further and to do more.

HOPE must be expanded to include all students who agree to teach in Maryland after they are graduated. As all of you know, it is my goal to expand our HOPE program every year. I dream of a day when every child in Maryland enters high school knowing that the doors of college will be open if they work hard, get good grades, and are willing to work in Maryland.

Our proposal expands HOPE each year to cover additional Maryland high school graduates. By the end of this term - if you agree - every student in every community and every discipline will be covered by HOPE. I want that young man that we talked about earlier from Oak View Elementary, I want him to study marine biology right here in Maryland, and work in Maryland and have his future in Maryland.

Many of you here today are first or second generation college graduates, just as I am. The doors of higher education were closed for so many reasons to those who came before you. Today, money is the obstacle that blocks those doors. Just as your parents and grandparents fought to ensure access to higher education for all people years ago, we must fight to ensure access today. Other states have been able to make this same promise. Certainly Maryland, one of the wealthiest States in the country, can do so as well. We owe it to our future. We owe it to our children.

Of course, these HOPE graduates will not be available to teach for several years. In the meantime, we will provide additional funding for Maryland's existing programs that attract and retain qualified teachers.

This funding will make it possible to graduate an additional 2,000 teachers. This will bridge the gap until the HOPE scholarship program is producing teachers for our classrooms and the needs today.

As we expand access to higher education, we will enhance quality by providing additional resources. We are entering the second year of our four-year, $635 million commitment to higher education across Maryland. But we also must remember that this historic commitment was simply intended to provide stability and some improvement after years of deep cuts in higher education. We now have the opportunity and the ability to think bigger, reach further and do more.

Maryland has a wonderful university system. But let us be candid, all of our campuses are not where we want them to be. Admiral Larson and the task force studying the University System of Maryland recommended ways to strengthen our system. We will move forward with legislation to help each and every campus achieve excellence. That is why our budget provides $102 million in new money to higher education across Maryland.

But even as we provide these additional resources, we must move away from bureaucracy-driven, formula-based funding. We must instead focus on the specific strengths of our institutions, their missions and their commitment to excellence. We must ask three questions of our colleges and universities: "What is your vision for excellence?" "What resources do we need to achieve it?" And "How will you be held accountable?" These are the crucial questions, not things like "What is your funding per full-time equivalent student?"

The fact is, this commitment to accountability is part and parcel of our entire education program. We will build the classrooms, but the local school systems must hire qualified - certified - teachers for those classrooms. We will open the doors to college with HOPE scholarships, but students must get good grades to qualify and they must pledge to stay and work in Maryland.

We will provide additional funding for higher education, but the institutions must make progress towards excellence. We are - one and all of us - we are responsible for our own actions. The bottom line of our education agenda is results, not resources. We will, working together, ensure a 21st century where all Marylanders have the opportunity to succeed.

The education agenda that I have laid out is ambitious. It is far reaching. But if we do not dream, if we do not dare, our children will not have the future they deserve. It is an investment that we must make. As we usher in a new century, we find Maryland enjoying growth and prosperity. But we must take advantage of these current strengths in ways that will secure our future.

Thirty years ago, our lieutenant governor's father, Robert Kennedy, spoke about the need to look beyond prosperity when setting a course for the future. He said: "The future does not belong to those who are content with today ... timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals of American society."

Robert Kennedy understood that the greatest impact of prosperity is that it gives us the opportunity and the ability to rise to tougher challenges. That is a philosophy that we are proud to share in Maryland. There is no ideal more important. There is no obligation more sacred. There is no challenge more in need of our full commitment than the education of our children.

Together we can rise to this challenge, focus on our children and step right into the future. Let us make the next century our century, where Maryland leads the nation and the world - in education, in prosperity, and in fulfilling the abiding promise of liberty and justice for all.

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