Maryland State of the State Address 2001

Following is the full text of Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening's Jan. 17 State of the State address, "Achieving Maryland's Potential: A Bold Vision for Higher Education, Smart Growth, and Justice, Fairness and Inclusion."

Senate President Mike Miller; Speaker Cas Taylor; Members of the General Assembly; Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Chief Judge Bob Bell; Attorney General Joe Curran; Treasurer Richard Dixon; Comptroller William Donald Schaefer; Secretary of State John Willis; Friends and fellow Marylanders:

It is my pleasure and great honor to come before you once again to deliver the State of the State. It gives me great pride to report to you that the State of Maryland is strong and prosperous. In fact--because of our work together--the State of Maryland is much stronger and much more prosperous than it has ever been in our history! Let us not forget, however, that while our polices set the stage for this prosperity, it is the hard-working men and women of Maryland who are the true drivers of our success.

This has been an extraordinary year. In fact, it has been an extraordinary string of years. When we first came together in this great and historic chamber six years ago, I doubt that many of us foresaw the remarkable heights of progress and prosperity that we would reach. I recall the challenges that greeted us when we began our partnership. As always, Maryland stood as a great, wealthy, proud State. But the people of Maryland were concerned, as they faced:

  • low job growth, made worse by the mis-perception of Maryland as a high-tax state; fiscal instability;

  • an uneven commitment to education . . . especially higher education;

  • increasing crime;

  • an environment threatened by sprawl and pollution;

  • and older communities in decline.

    Together we went to work . . . and our work has paid off.

    Today Maryland has one of the nation's strongest economies:

  • Jobs are at an all-time high;

  • Unemployment is near an all-time low;

  • We have the highest family income in the nation;

  • We have one of the lowest overall poverty rates in the country;

  • And--something of which the Lt. Governor and I are particularly proud--we have one of the lowest children's poverty rates in the country;

  • And--at the same time--we cut 28 taxes, returning nearly $2.6 billion to taxpayers, including the first Income Tax cut in 30 years.

    Cas, I thank you for your leadership in enacting those tax cuts.

    Today--with your help and support--our budget is fiscally sound. In fact, we begin the fiscal year with a $375 million surplus.

    Together, we made education the number one priority of Maryland. This year our schools will receive $2.6 billion in State aid. That is $1 billion more than they received the year the Lt. Governor and I took office. We also began the Golden Age of School Construction, with $1.6 billion in funding to build and modernize over 13,000 classrooms all across Maryland. And higher education is being elevated to its proper status as a top State priority . . . not just a budgetary afterthought.

    Today, under the leadership of Lt. Governor Townsend, Attorney General Curran, Colonel Mitchell, the Courts and our legislative leaders, the crime rate in Maryland is at its lowest level in 25 years!

    And today--as Smart Growth has taken hold in Maryland--our older neighborhoods are seeing new vitality, and our environment is better protected for our children, and our children's children.

    We have also become a national leader on a number of critical issues. Thanks to the leadership of people like Senator Chris Van Hollen, we are a leader in the fight against gun violence. Leaders like Delegate Sandy Rosenberg helped make Maryland a national model in the battle against cancer and tobacco addiction. And I thank people like Delegate Mike Busch for helping to bring health care to our children. I stress, however, that we must resist the temptation to see our success as proof of a job completed. For the truth is, our job is not done. Yes, we met many challenges over the last six years. Economically, educationally and socially, we are enjoying the best of times. Indeed, the sun shines brightly upon Maryland.

    There are, however, clouds on the horizon that threaten to destroy our great success and prosperity. Seeding these clouds are three great unmet needs: In Higher Education; Environmental Protection; and ensuring a greater sense of Justice, Fairness and Inclusion. These are the three challenges we face in this new century. These challenges top my legislative agenda.

    We will open wider the door of opportunity to all Marylanders with a strong and unwavering commitment to higher education; We will lift up and breath new life into all of our communities--and protect our open spaces--by taking the next bold steps in Smart Growth; And we will move Maryland closer to our most fundamental values by embracing greater justice, fairness and inclusion. I recognize that these challenges are not new, but we must view them with a new urgency.

    If we meet these three challenges, we will set a course that will ensure our State's success for generations to come. Just imagine what our State will be if every parent and young person knows that our colleges will be open and accessible for all those who want to attend and who can do the work; Just imagine Maryland as home to neighborhoods and communities that are alive, vibrant, safe and walkable, with homes, businesses, shops, and places of worship side-by-side, and where a sense of community--of neighbor knowing neighbor-- is real. And just imagine how much stronger we will be when no Marylander fears that they will be denied their share of our common dream because of skin color, gender, faith or accent . . . or who they happen to love. This is a powerful vision. It will not be achieved without hard work and sacrifice.

    If we back away from these challenges and take no precautions against the storm as it gathers, we risk becoming a bitterly divided society. If we do not make a meaningful commitment to higher education, we will see generations of young people lose hope, as they face a doubly harsh dilemma: Higher education becoming more and more essential for success in the new economy . . . yet increasingly available only to those fortunate enough to be born into a family of wealth. If we do not take the next steps in Smart Growth, we shut out thousands of families as parts of our State fall into decay, while at the same time we will see others living not just insulated--but isolated--behind gated communities. And if we do not truly embrace justice, fairness and inclusion for all, we will see the same divisiveness that hurt our nation for so long continue to plague us . . . making our dreams of justice, fairness and inclusion a mere illusion.

    I speak for all Marylanders when I say we must--and we will--reject these possibilities. We will come together--just as we have year after year--and embrace policies that free our individual and collective potential.

    As always, we must start with education . . . especially higher education. We can all be proud of the renewed emphasis we have given to higher education in the past six years: Together, we have increased significantly our support for higher education since the Lt. Governor and I took office: We more than doubled financial aid with new merit scholarships and a major increase in "need based" aid. Senator Hoffman, I thank you for leading the fight on this effort. We strengthened support for our Historically Black Institutions. Senator Blount, you have been a true champion on this issue. We also embarked upon a $1.2 billion campus construction program to build new science and technology facilities on campuses across Maryland. President Miller, I thank you for your leadership in the area.

    We must be mindful, however, that much of our work together was merely to "catch up" to where Maryland should have been. As we all know, higher education bore a disproportionate burden of budget cuts in the recession of the early 1990s. We are just now fully recovering. Having brought stability to our colleges and universities, we must look towards the future with a determination to go beyond the status quo with dramatic, bold steps.

    Last year in my State of the State address, I shared my vision for higher education. I said then and I repeat today: "I want the word 'tuition' to be seen as an anachronism. All children will move into college just as they now move from junior high to high school. Maryland's institutions of higher education will be among the best in the country . . . and they will be free". This vision is just as critical today.

    I taught at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years. It is my strong belief that as individuals--and as a society--we will only reach our full potential if we encourage and enable our citizens to pursue knowledge for its own sake. At the same time, I also understand the responsibility we have to produce men and women ready to excel in the new economy. Access to higher education is essential in achieving both a civil society and a thriving economy. This view is supported by a recent Wall Street Journal article highlighting factors high-tech industry leaders consider when making location decisions. The most important factor was access to a skilled and educated workforce. The second most important factor was proximity to world-class research institutions, including colleges and universities. In contrast, financial incentives came in last . . . tenth out of ten. There is widespread agreement that higher education is the engine that will propel our society into a brighter, more prosperous future. Unfortunately, too many of our citizens are priced out of the college classroom and--unacceptably--out of promising careers and successful lives. Today, a sound Kindergarten through twelfth grade education is not sufficient. We never say to a tenth grader "sorry, you cannot afford the next two years--you have to quit school". To do so would be outrageous and unacceptable. Yet we do the exact same thing two years later. That is morally wrong. Higher education for all is a necessity.

    The fact is, we are moving aggressively towards our vision of making higher education a universal experience. We capped tuition increases and introduced the HOPE Scholarship Program to make college more affordable and more accessible. We owe it to future generations to do even more. We must work together towards the goal of universal access to higher education. I hold no illusion that this will happen in the next few years or that it will be easy to accomplish. If, however, our State and our Nation are to continue to prosper, we must make progress towards the goal of opening our colleges and universities to everyone.

    We also want excellence at our centers of higher education. We are moving towards that goal. St. Mary's College is recognized as the nation's best public liberal arts college. Morgan State is well known for educating many of our nation's African-American leaders. University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore County are home to some of the nation's leading research centers. And Prince George's Community College was recently named a national model for undergraduate education.

    With the financial commitment we will make to higher education this year, we continue our progress towards State-wide excellence. Our budget contains a $1.3 billion investment in higher education . . . an investment in our future. This means an increase of almost 70% since the Lt. Governor and I took office! Money to make our colleges and universities the best in the nation. Money to help more Marylanders pursue their dream of a prosperous future through higher education.

    We also must find ways to take bold steps in extending the reach and broadening the impact of our Smart Growth program. We should all be proud that Smart Growth has literally become a national--even international--movement. We must take the next dramatic steps to make Smart Growth a permanent fixture on Maryland's landscape. First, we will create a Governor's Office on Smart Growth. This office will help coordinate wide-ranging State policies to ensure that every department and agency is acting in accord with the principles of Smart Growth. This new office will also serve as a "Smart Growth Clearing House". It will be a one-stop information center for builders, planners, local officials, community groups, environmentalists, farmers, and others who want to incorporate Smart Growth into their initiatives. Dutch Ruppersberger talked with me about the need for this type of office just last week. We will allow people to cut through the bureaucracy and get Smart Growth information that is accurate and fast. Rather than going to the Department of Agriculture, and then to Planning, and then to Natural Resources, or Transportation or some other agency . . . .people will come to a single office and learn--almost immediately--if what they propose is indeed Smart Growth. If not, we will work with them to improve the project. If it is, we can help them access supportive State programs. This is good government and it is good business.

    We will also advance the Smart Growth / Anti-Sprawl ethic with a $750 million investment in our most important transportation priority -- public transportation. Our goal is to double Transit ridership by the year 2020. We must make public Transit more than just an alternative. It has to be the transportation method of choice. This investment is really just the next step in the on-going Smart Growth journey. We can and will have the quality of life we want:

  • Where the commute to work--or anywhere--is easy and comfortable on affordable, convenient public transit;

  • Where cars no longer clog our highways and choke our air with pollution;

  • Where transit stations--like the station in Silver Spring--are hubs of activity, with businesses, shops, restaurants and residences;

  • And where transit gives families more time to spend together over dinner or at a daughter's soccer game.

    This is a vision we all share. This is a vision we can all create.

    We will also launch a new "Community Legacy" program with an initial commitment of $15 million. This program--modeled after Rural Legacy-will fill in funding gaps in existing programs to revitalize targeted neighborhoods. We have all seen that a small change can make a big difference in a community. Helping a group of urban homeowners make improvements to their houses can be a catalyst to a renewed sense of civic pride throughout the neighborhood. I saw this first hand, when I toured the Hillendale section of Baltimore County. Streetscaping and sidewalk improvements in an inner-suburb can encourage residents to walk to commercial areas or transit centers, enhancing businesses and fostering a true community spirit. I saw this happen in my home county in Landover when--finally--sidewalks were added along Landover Road. Rehabilitating an old theater in a small town can reconnect the residents with one another and restore a sense of community. I saw this with the Maryland Theater in Hagerstown. This is what Community Legacy will allow us to do across the State. It will fill the gaps that exist in our current programs so that key projects can move forward and communities can reestablish what is best about themselves.

    In addition, we will expand our efforts to focus on Community Parks and Playgrounds with a 3-year, $45 million initiative. From Suitland in Prince George's County, to Frostburg in Allegany County, we will provide funding to restore and create parks and playgrounds in communities all across the State. Today, residents in many of our communities have easy access to beautiful, clean, safe, well-maintained parks and playgrounds. Others, however, have access to no parks or playgrounds at all. Or--perhaps even worse--access only to parks and playgrounds that are dirty, run-down, and dangerous. This is not acceptable. I remember taking my son Raymond to "Rocket Ship Park" in our neighborhood when he was a child. I can still remember the look of sheer joy on his face as his imagination took him to far off places. We all know that look of delight that can only start with a child, but that is so contagious it quickly spreads to all. I want every child--and every parent--in every community to know that joy.

    Our final Smart Growth advance will be our 5-year, $145 million investment in a "Green Print" for Maryland. We will do more to preserve large tracts of open space, and work to connect already preserved lands. Maryland has tremendous preservation programs. We also have an unparalleled record of land preservation. In fact, the Sierra Club ranked Maryland first in the nation in land conservation. As outstanding as our programs are, they do have one weakness . . . . they operate independently. There is nothing that "connects" one program to another . . . nothing that "connects" one area of preserved land to another. Our "Green Print" program changes that. First, it will provide additional funds to preserve our most precious natural resources. Second, it will enable us to connect the areas we have already preserved: to protect our most vital land; to protect species of animals and plants that are threatened; and to protect our Bay. As we make these connections, the impact will reach far beyond the land itself: it will enhance the prosperity of our watermen; it will strengthen our tourism industry; and it will guarantee the quality of life that makes Maryland so special.

    At the heart of Smart Growth lies a very simple vision: Creating a Maryland where people truly have the ability to choose to live in the type of community they want. People do not want to spend hours every day in their cars driving to and from work, but for years we have given them little choice. People do not want sprawl to eat away our green space and destroy our State's natural beauty, yet the destruction continues. People do not want to move further and further out to have the best schools and parks, but for years that was the only way to have access to those things. Families want to live in prosperous, close-knit communities, with good schools, open spaces, parks, and playgrounds. Smart Growth gives them that choice!

    Our third and final major focus is our continuing search for justice, fairness and inclusion. This is, perhaps, the darkest cloud on our horizon. We must continue to be active and engaged in the on-going struggle for justice, fairness, and inclusion. These core values must apply to ALL of us . . . or they are threatened for EACH of us. We begin by ending the reprehensible practice of Racial Profiling. It is simply outrageous that African-Americans are targeted for traffic stops in this manner. I commend Delegate Pete Rawlings for laying the groundwork on this issue last year, and Congressman Cummings for leading the fight at the Federal level. Make no mistake about it Racial Profiling does exist. It exists across America . . . and it exists here in Maryland. It is wrong. It is immoral. It must stop! Together, we can and we will end it. Our effort goes beyond the most urgent problem of African Americans and targets all forms of profiled traffic stops. Nobody--not African Americans, not Hispanics, not teen-aged white males--nobody should be subject to this vile practice.

    We will also take the necessary steps to update our Minority Business Program to more accurately reflect the dynamics of our changing population and business community. A few moments ago I outlined the remarkable strength of our economy. But the fact is, not everyone has been given the opportunity to share in this prosperity. As a recent study of our Minority Business Program makes clear, we must do more to foster and support small and minority business. Given Maryland's large and diverse minority community, our current goal of 14% minority participation in State contracts is far too low. We will lift our goal to 25%. This increase will benefit all groups that have suffered discrimination: Women, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and others. We will also give special attention to African-American businesses, which the report identifies as facing the most intense discrimination. We can come together and craft a program that is fair to minority businesses, and able to withstand the legal challenges that will result. I know we are fighting the tide on this issue, but we will keep fighting for what is right. It is the role of Government to help people achieve success. I know, my father received a government loan to start his own small business. When I couldn't afford college, I got a government scholarship. I ask you, if these programs were right for white males--like my father and for me--how can we not show the same support for women and minorities?

    In addition, we will institute Collective Bargaining for University Employees. Keep in mind, this will not apply to professors and other instructional staff. This will impact support staff, maintenance workers, grounds keepers, campus police, custodial staff, and food service employees. I can remember when I taught at College Park. At 8:00 a.m. I would talk with the men and women who came in as early as 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock in the morning to clean the classrooms and offices. Just about all of these individuals had to work second jobs to support their families. They all received the lowest State salary. Almost none of them received health or retirement benefits. This is wrong! As a matter of simple fairness, we must give a stronger voice to those on the lower-rungs of the economic ladder who are working hard and who are trying to build a better life for themselves.

    Lastly, I will once again submit and fight for legislation to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is a fight that Delegate Sheila Hixson and many others know very well. As long as people are subjected to harassment and bigotry simply for their choice of partner, we will not live-up to the standards we have set for ourselves as a nation . . . and as a people. As you know, this is an issue of great personal importance to me: My brother Bruce, who served in the Air Force for 19 years, was gay and ultimately died of AIDS. It is chilling to think that my brother's greatest fear was not that he would be called upon to risk--even sacrifice--his life for his country. His greatest fear was that he would be ridiculed and discharged from the service if his sexual orientation was discovered. Here was a man . . . a good man . . . . an honorable man . . .a man who dedicated his life to serving his Country. Yet he had to live a lie every single day. Nobody should have to live like that.

    We can be better than we have allowed ourselves to be. We can--and must--expect nothing less from ourselves. We must continue to actively support any and all measures that secure justice for those who have been wronged and inclusion for those who have been shut out. It is a matter of basic civil rights--of human rights. I know we will join together and do what is right.

    Earlier I spoke of the three challenges before us as dark clouds. However, unlike the storms that occur in nature--outside of any human control--we have the ability to look to the clouds looming on the horizon and disperse them before they become a destructive storm. Let us work together to meet the challenges we face. Let us make quality Higher Education a universal experience; Let us bring new life to our communities and protect our natural resources with more Smart Growth; And let us bring the vision of Justice, Fairness and Inclusion for all to life. Together we can and will succeed. Our actions can push away the storm clouds on the horizon, so that the sun continues to shine hope and opportunity upon Maryland, promising a brighter future for ALL of us. Thank you.
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