Governor cites four areas of accomplishment

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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. ...

Today, I acknowledge Kevin Schiavone, who is one of 3,800 Marylanders who has taken advantage of a HOPE Scholarship in the pursuit of his dreams. Kevin's dream was to become a teacher. Today, after receiving a master's degree at Bowie State University, Kevin is a special education teacher at Annapolis High School, where he is also a football and baseball coach and a tutor. Yes, it cost the state money to help Kevin become a teacher, but I know you will agree with me that the return on our investment has been spectacular. ...

I also take great pride in our Smart Growth program. It is one of the major accomplishments of our administration. When the lieutenant governor and I took office, unchecked sprawl threatened to devour our best remaining open space and destroy the unique character of our wonderful state. Today, Smart Growth has taken hold in Maryland, revitalizing older, established communities across the state, protecting our most precious farms and forests and fields, and saving taxpayers the cost of subsidizing sprawl. Maryland is the leader - nationally and internationally - in the Smart Growth anti-sprawl movement. ...

A few months ago, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens and several of you joined me on a boat ride along the Patuxent River to view the Jacoby property, which was purchased with GreenPrint funding. Within that protected area you will find: marshlands that are habitat for eagles and ospreys; forests that are home to 200 species of migratory songbirds; wetlands that provide nursery habitat for fish; a natural system that supports beaver, muskrat and fox; undisturbed land essential to protect and improve the water quality of our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. ... That property will never become the location of a strip mall or of a townhouse development. That property will be preserved for our children, for all time.

Of all the promises Kathleen and I made and kept, none matters more to me than our work together to foster a greater sense of fairness, justice and inclusion. In the last eight years, we have made meaningful progress toward: ending racial profiling; ending discrimination in Maryland based on sexual orientation; and we have raised the goal for minority participation in state contracts to 25 percent so that everyone has the opportunity to share in Maryland's prosperity - including people like Reginald Daniel. Reggie founded Scientific and Engineering Solutions here in Annapolis in 1996.

That first year, his company had three employees. Today, just six years later, the company employs 120 people and has annual revenue of almost $20 million. Last year, Reggie was honored as the National Black Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneur of the Year. Reggie himself says that none of this success would have been possible without early help from the state. Our Small and Minority Business Program gave him the initial funding he needed to get his business started. In the near future, Reggie envisions his company generating $100 million a year in revenues and employing 700 people.

But the story does not stop there. Reggie has formed a non-profit organization to help provide technology training to children from low-income families. This is a company that is creating jobs today, will continue to create jobs in the future and is preparing young people to move into those jobs. ...

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to report to you that - because of our work together - the State of our State is strong. We are not, however, immune to the horrific events of Sept. 11th. We face new security-related expenses that could not have been foreseen just a few months ago. Important sectors of our economy, most notably the airport, travel and tourism industries, have been hurt. And an air of doubt and uncertainty holds back our economy.

While I am confident that the fundamental strength of our economy and the energy and spirit of our people will soon overcome this downturn, there are urgent, short-term difficulties that we now face. Our most immediate responsibility is addressing the ramifications of last year's terrorism attack. We are submitting to you a single, coordinated, comprehensive security package, which focuses on three areas: First, refining the structure of government, with the creation of a Maryland Security Council to deal with the constant evolving security issues; second, revising the criminal code to find the right balance between safety and basic civil rights; and third, supporting members of the National Guard, who have done an absolutely tremendous job over the last several months.

With us today is Capt. Michael Duplechain, the officer in charge of the Airport Security Mission. In response to my call to duty, the captain and the guard members he commands left their families and jobs to ensure the safety of the traveling public. ... Since the state is receiving federal assistance with the call-up, Captain Duplechain and the men and women on duty at our airports enjoy certain financial and legal protection that members of the Maryland National Guard called to duty in other circumstances do not.

No member of the Maryland National Guard, under any circumstances, should be penalized for doing the right thing - for answering the call to duty. No member should face the prospect of losing his or her home because they are called to serve in a state emergency or to worry about losing his or her job. And spouses and children should be able to keep the same health insurance and be able to see the same doctors. Let us work together to ensure that when members of the Maryland National Guard are called to duty by the governor, that they receive the same support and protection as when they are called up by the president. The men and women of the Maryland National Guard deserve no less.

Even as we craft an agenda that recognizes the security and fiscal realities we face, we must remember the responsibilities we have to future generations. We cannot, we will not, curtail our commitment to education. ... It is unacceptable to tell our students to make do with less: less education, less opportunity and less expectations for the future. That is why, even in the face of the national economic slowdown, we are increasing funding for education by $161 million. We are increasing funding for higher education by an additional $68 million. We will fully fund our Campus Construction program. And we will surpass our school construction goal. ...

Likewise, we cannot, we will not, scale down our commitment to protecting our environment. Let us remember: Tough budget times will come and go, but once our land and resources are gone, they are gone forever. That is why we will act this session to restore the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Program to its original intent: To prevent the development and destruction of our precious lands. We will protect our coastal bays just as strongly as we protect the Chesapeake Bay. We will strengthen our laws and increase penalties to stop those who pollute our environment, especially our air and water. And we will give individuals and groups the legal standing they need to join us in the fight to protect our environment.

You know, for years across this country, states have engaged in a "race to the bottom" on environmental protection in the mistaken belief that such action would spur economic development. We now know that protecting the environment and strengthening the economy go hand in hand. It is time for a "race to the top," with Maryland leading the way.

We must also honor our responsibility to further strengthen Maryland's leadership in promoting a just and inclusive society. That is why we will propose extending collective bargaining rights for education support personnel on the Eastern Shore. Support personnel in every other county already have this right. In addition, we will allow teachers and local school boards to bargain over key issues such as teacher mentoring and professional development.

Yes, we will make tough decisions, as we always have, to maintain the long-term fiscal integrity of this state. But we will do so in a way that maintains our priorities. Remember, it is our commitment to education, especially higher education, that lifted Maryland to the unprecedented prosperity we know today. It is our commitment to protecting the environment that secures our quality of life for generations to come. And it is our commitment to fairness, justice and inclusion that makes Maryland a beacon of tolerance and diversity. ...

We should all be proud of where we have taken Maryland. We should be prouder still of where our work together will allow Maryland to go. Today, there are more Marylanders in college than ever before. These are the teachers, business leaders, scientists and public-policy-makers of tomorrow.

There are more New Economy jobs in Maryland than ever before. These are the jobs that will maintain Maryland as an economic leader far into the century. There is more land protected in Maryland than ever before. This is the land that makes our state so unique. And there are more minority-owned and women-owned businesses in Maryland than ever before. These are the businesses that provide opportunity for all. And there is more diversity in the judiciary and government of Maryland than ever before. This diversity is our great source of strength.

My friends, my colleagues, I ask your indulgence as I take a moment to go beyond the normal scope of this address: to speak more of vision than of policy; to look beyond Maryland's borders to see the future of our nation and of our world; to envision what Maryland's example can help create elsewhere, how our hard work here can have far-reaching ramifications, not through an individual policy or program, but through a broader vision of what is within our power to achieve.

You know, I recently had the honor to speak with [South Africa's former President] Nelson Mandela when he visited the College Park campus. ... President Mandela marveled at the ability the United States has to mobilize the world in a war against terrorism. Even traditional enemies are united in this just military cause.

But when the battles are over and the victory is won - and they will be - the international coalition we have forged must not once again be dismantled. Rather, it must be re-energized and redirected to secure victory over other threats: poverty and hopelessness throughout the world, global environmental destruction, ignorance and bigotry. We must also overcome these great challenges. While the leaders behind the terrorist attack are driven by fanaticism and hatred, many that follow them - their foot soldiers - are driven by other things: poverty, misery and desperation. We will never eradicate evil from the world. But we must eradicate conditions that allow evil to gain strength. ...

America must lead a campaign aimed at defeating the conditions of poverty that enable hatred and violence to thrive, a campaign that is based on the belief that real peace will only come when the world community protects the hope for freedom of people everywhere, a campaign that understands that hope and freedom can be the only true victors over terrorism and fanaticism.

We must also come together in an effort to protect the world environment and to fight global warming. This means more than telling developing nations what to do and what not to do. When I visited Brazil not too long ago, leaders there were quick to point out that America built our prosperity at the cost of our environment. We cut down the great forests of the East Coast in the name of progress and economic development. It is not for us to lecture other countries; instead, we must give the nations of the world realistic options for economic growth and for the protection of the environment. This vision calls for an Environmental Marshall Plan, enacted before the greatest damage is done - not after the fact. And it calls for serious leadership on global environmental issues from the United States.

Finally, we must bring together the world to fight the ignorance and the bigotry that continue to divide us. When I spoke with President Mandela, we talked about South Africa, where almost one-quarter of the population is HIV positive. Yet this tragedy is almost invisible to the Western world. Last year in America, we tragically lost five people as a result of the anthrax attacks. We saw a nationwide demand that the drug companies lower the cost of antibiotics so that individuals affected by the attacks could receive treatment. Yet there is no global outcry, no demands made on the drug companies, no real response whatsoever, to 2 1/2 million Africans who have died of AIDS. ...

Now, I know these issues will not be solved here in Annapolis in the next 90 days. But if we do our part for our state, we can send forth our own "ripples of hope." ... Our continued support for higher education may well help produce a scientist whose breakthrough research revolutionizes AIDS treatment. Our strong embrace of justice and inclusion may well help a young man in Baltimore, growing up in poverty, realize that he can go to college, start a business and - in his success - give back to his community and the world community. Our unyielding efforts to protect the environment may inspire a young woman on the Eastern Shore to envision a world where we make our environment a lasting priority, and she may say to herself, "Why not."

Ladies and gentlemen, I say to you, "Why not, indeed?" With your steady support, we can create an amazing future, for Maryland, for America and for the world.

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