Text of Gov. Martin O'Malley's State of the State Address - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Text of Gov. Martin O'Malley's State of the State Address

But beyond the means of a working government are the goals of improved public education and improved public safety _ the very foundations of strong neighborhoods, strong counties, and a stronger and growing middle class.

To improve public education in every part of our state:

  1. I ask for your support for the final year of Thornton school funding _ the largest single-year increase in Maryland history for education, with an additional $580 million in funding for local school systems; 
  2. I ask that you pass legislation codifying our state's commitment to phase in funding of the Geographic Cost of Education Index, beginning next year;
  3. I ask that, together, we start to get our children out of the temporary learning shacks that have been popping up behind every school in our state- and approve the record $400 million in school construction dollars proposed in this year's budget; and
  4. I ask for your support, in this year's budget, to increase our investment in our institutions of higher learning by $192 million- including an 18 percent increase for community colleges.

Along with those investments, I ask for your support of SB108 and HB134 to freeze any further increase in tuition this year for in-state students. This will give families some relief while Lt. Gov. Brown works with the Hogan Commission on a long-term solution to keep higher education affordable. Working families must be able to send their children to Maryland colleges.

When it comes to improving public safety and homeland security in our state, we have our work cut out for us. Our Department of Corrections, Parole and Probation, and Juvenile Services are deeply troubled. All are in urgent need of reform and have been for some time- little wonder that Maryland is the fifth most violent state in the union.

Compounding our challenge is the fact that our nation's capital is now- and for the foreseeable future will remain- a prime target in a new type of global warfare.

Among other things, I ask for your support for an additional $7 million dollars in this year's budget to fund 155 additional correctional officers. I ask for your support for $2 million additional dollars to protect Maryland families from sexual predators, with advanced Global Positioning Systems that track offenders.

I ask for your support for an additional $500,000 to allow the Maryland State Police to knock out the huge backlog of violent offenders from whom DNA "fingerprints" have yet to be taken. Finally, I ask for your support for an additional $5 million to expand drug treatment through the increased use of recently approved buprenorphine therapies.

And I look forward to working with leaders of both houses as, together, we find new ways to attack our common enemies of gang violence and violent crime.

In order to make Maryland a leader in improving homeland security, we will: 

  1. Constitute a new Maryland Security Council to bring all relevant agencies and departments into the prevention, preparedness and recovery regimen on a quarterly basis. And we will quickly secure a professional and expert assessment of Maryland's true level of homeland security and emergency preparedness, so we can begin to produce the security deliverables that our peoples safety demands; 
  2. We will pursue the cooperation of our neighbors in the District of Columbia and Virginia- and our respective congressional delegations- to secure an expanded federal definition of the National Capital Region for homeland security purposes; and 
  3. I have directed our transportation secretary to formulate a plan of action that will lead to the Port of Baltimore becoming the best inspected and most secure port in the United States.

Today, we compete economically as never before on a global and faster track. In a very real way, our economic security and competitiveness as a state depends on our ability to expand greater opportunities to greater numbers of our citizens.

Having already touched on our agenda for greater learning and earning opportunities, let us turn to the agenda we share for progress on health care and our environment.

In order to begin to turn around the alarming health-care trend of rising costs and a rising number of uninsured Marylanders every year, I ask that you pass the Maryland Healthcare Act. Among other things the act will create a Health Insurance Exchange to help small businesses find more affordable coverage for their employees- on a pretax basis. It will require insurance companies to allow younger adults up to age 25 to be covered under their parents policies. And it will also provide health-care coverage to more children in our state.

I also ask for your support for several other initiatives in this year's proposed budget: 

  1. $25 million for stem cell research- a 66 percent increase over last year's appropriation;
  2. The restoration of Medicaid health-care benefits to legal immigrant families, including 3,000 children; 
  3. And over $100 million to strengthen our provider systems by increasing reimbursement rates for doctors participating in our state's Medicaid Program.

When physicians and other providers do not receive adequate compensation for the services they provide, it threatens the quality and effectiveness of our healthcare system. Therefore, as part of our legislative agenda, I ask for your support of the task force on Health Care Access and Physician Reimbursement.

I also ask for your support to create a Life Science Advisory Board- as a potential precursor to a true Life Sciences Authority- so that we can more effectively grow an industry that already employs 57,000 people in and around places like NIH, Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and the Food and Drug Administration, to name just a few.

And finally on health care, I ask for your support of a Universal Vaccine Purchasing Task Force, so we can better understand how to protect Marylanders against the flu and other foreseeable diseases.

Because health care is a battle of a thousand partial victories, I look forward to working with Chairman (Peter) Hammen, Chairman (Thomas "Mac") Middleton and others in the weeks ahead, as we roll up our sleeves to craft ways to improve health-care coverage and our health-care outcomes.

When it comes to the urgent work of protecting and improving the health of our Chesapeake Bay watershed for the benefit of generations to come, there is no time to waste. Nor is there a better time to begin looking toward the next generation of technologies- to protect our environment and build our economy.

Because smart sustainable growth is absolutely central to preserving our quality of life in this sensitive bay watershed, I have directed our secretary of planning to re-establish the Office of Smart Growth within his agency to help coordinate growth across agencies lines.

As we move forward with the development of BayStat-  to apply performance measured management to all of our bay restoration efforts _ please know that the following items are all contained in the proposed budget before you: Every dollar of Open Space funding this year- an estimated $289 million- will be spent on open space. An additional $138 million, with your support, will go to improve local water and wastewater systems for the benefit of the health of the bay.

And with your support, this budget will also provide record funding for cover crops and will triple Maryland's investment in the development of agriculture and resource-based industries through MARBIDCO.

By making sustainable farming in Maryland more profitable, we preserve open space and improve the health of the bay.

Speaker (Michael) Busch has been a tremendous champion of another bill I am asking you to support. The Oyster Restoration Act will, for the first time, allow our Department of Natural Resources to lease parcels of land on the floor of the bay for oyster restoration projects. We need to restore this natural aquatic filter to the Chesapeake if we hope to turn it around.

As we accept our responsibility in the fight against global warming, I ask you to support the Clean Cars Act, adopting stricter pollution emission standards for cars sold in Maryland. By taking action, we can help children suffering with asthma. We can remove pollutants from the air and the bay. And we can join 11 other states in getting this done, this year.

We will also be revamping the Maryland Energy Administration to spearhead our state's effort advancing the development of clean and renewable energy, including the next generation of bio-fuels- like cellulosic ethanol- which our academic institutions and private companies are already pursuing. And government should lead the way by increasing the percentage of clean fuels we purchase each year and by investing in green building technologies. Maryland can and should lead on energy independence.

Because the decisions we make about transportation determine- in a very real way- the future character of our state, this year's budget also fully protects the integrity of the Transportation Trust Fund. I ask for your support for the over $1 billion dollars in highway and roads projects across our state, and the $300 million in mass transit projects.

And I look forward to working with all of you in the months ahead as we bring greater balance to our efforts in transportation- solutions that foster smarter and more sustainable patterns of growth for our future. But all of us must recognize that however efficiently and effectively we stretch our state's current investment in transportation solutions, we will never be able to multiply "bread and fishes" to cover the multitude of needs without new dollars.

My friends, there are many other initiatives that will strengthen and grow our middle class- the agency fee legislation that allows state workers the right to organize and have their collective voice heard, and an end to the cruel and antiquated practice of using ground rents to evict families from their homes.

In the days of this first session, I hope that we will be able to spend the vast majority of our time solving problems and coming together around the solutions about which there is so much consensus- and for which, I might add, there is considerable pent-up demand. The people of our state desperately want us to get things done again.

If we must have potentially polarizing debates this session- on issues like taxes, slots and the future of Maryland's 18,000 racing jobs, and Maryland's ineffective death penalty law- let us do so recognizing that there are good and decent people on both sides of these debates.

We cannot resolve every unsettled issue in just 90 days; nor can we heal in 90 days divisions that were four years in the making. But we must do all that we can to maximize the effectiveness of this session- and these four years-  for the people of our state. For success breeds success. Mutual respect builds mutual trust. And important things done well make even greater things possible.

This year, together, we are choosing to make progress on the priorities of the people who elected us. Implicit, however, in the choices we make this year is the faith that we have the courage to face up to the fiscal reality before us in the year ahead.

If not, we risk going back to a time that we were not particularly proud of _ making life less affordable for middle-class families. Cutting funds to local government. Stealing from our children's future by taking money away from open space, and shifting transportation dollars away from reducing traffic. I don't believe that is the sort of future we would choose.

With all humility, I promise you I will not squander the year ahead. To the contrary, I will do everything in my power to bring spending under control with professional management. I will do everything in my power to squeeze savings out of your government with performance measurement and accountability. And I know you will do your tough jobs, as well.

So, let's get to work. For a better and stronger future. For the people of our One Maryland. So, let's get to work.



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