Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's 2014 State of the State Speech
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Speaker Busch, Senate President Miller, Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Brinkley, Minority Leader of the House, Delegate Kipke; Lieutenant Governor Brown, Treasurer Kopp, Comptroller Franchot, Attorney General Gansler; Governor Hughes, Governor Glendening, Attorney General Curran, Senator Sarbanes; Chief Judge Barbera; colleagues in city and county governments; Senator Cardin, Congressman Van Hollen, Congresswoman Edwards; Tribal Chair Proctor, Tribal Chair Savoy; and Ambassador Zamora of El Salvador—a country whose sons and daughters are contributing in so many ways to the life of our State.
Members of the hardest-working cabinet in America; men and women of the Maryland General Assembly.
There is one more person I would like to especially acknowledge. She is here today as she has been at my side every day for 23 years. She is my best friend, my partner in life, the finest wife and mother any family could want. She is the First Lady of Maryland, Judge Katie Curran O’Malley.
My fellow Marylanders, over the course of these seven years, you and I have carried with us a commitment….
It is a commitment to a better future: the better future our children deserve.
A commitment founded on the belief we share in the dignity of every individual.
A commitment strengthened by the belief we share in our own responsibility to advance the common good.
A commitment sanctified by the belief we hold,… that we are all in this together, and each of us is needed in God’s eyes.
I have seen this commitment myself, in the eyes of our teachers, firefighters and police officers. In the eyes of our veterans and their brave families. In the quiet fortitude of hard-working moms and dads throughout our State.
It is a commitment that has been shared by each of you, who have the privilege to represent the citizens of Maryland in this historic place.
I remember the first time I set foot in this building, as a young boy with my father. He was a lawyer and he had a case here in Annapolis at the Court of Appeals.
He took my hand as we climbed the steps of this Revolutionary building.
He brought my brother and me to the room down the hall where General Washington gave his authority over the Army, back to the elected representatives of the People.
And in that doorway, he leaned down to me and explained the significance of this very House Chamber, the duties of the men and women who are elected to serve here.
I was awed by the fact that this is the place we have come together as a people for more than 200 years, to make a better life. To make this place, our place, a better place.
It has been a tremendous and humbling honor to serve the people of Maryland—through these difficult and important days—with each of you.
All of us, together.
The State of Our State is Strong
On this occasion, we take time to reflect on the way we have traveled, and where we have come.
Through the longest wars in American history, and the greatest recession since the Great Depression, our goals as an Administration, have remained constant and true:
To strengthen and grow the ranks of our middle class, including our family-owned businesses and farms.
To improve public safety and public education.
To expand opportunity to more people rather than fewer – the opportunity to learn and to earn, the opportunity to enjoy our health, to enjoy the health of the people we love, and the health of this land we love—the Chesapeake Bay, the Patuxent, the mountains of Western Maryland, the marshes of the Eastern Shore.
Today, because of the hard work and courage of our people, I can report to you that the state of our State is strong, and growing stronger by the day.
In fact, not only is Maryland stronger than before — Maryland is cleaner, smarter, safer, healthier, more entrepreneurial, and more competitive than she was before the recession hit.
Think back: When we took office, Maryland had a $1.7 billion structural deficit. No sooner had we taken action together to address that deficit, than the recession hit.
Parents lost their jobs; children lost their homes; families struggled to hold on to their dignity.
Even as we fought to help every family we could – to save every home and every job we could – our State revenues took a huge hit, right along with so many family incomes.
Since that time, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has used the challenge of these times to make our government more efficient, and more effective.
We have cut spending by $9.1 billion dollars.
We have made more cuts than any administration in modern Maryland history.
Today, we now have the smallest executive branch since 1973—and the budget I presented to you last week puts us on a track to totally eliminate that structural deficit without the need for any new fees or taxes.
We remain one of only seven states that has maintained a triple-A bond rating all through the recession, and to this day.
We have built up our Rainy Day Fund to $800 million dollars, and we have placed this year in our general reserve an operating surplus of $37 million dollars.
A Balanced Approach
But cuts are only part of our story.
No state has ever cut its way to greater prosperity.
Growth requires investment.
Together, we have made those critical investments—investments to educate, to innovate, to rebuild, to grow jobs and create a better economy.
This is what a balanced approach is all about.
Seven years ago, we were failing to live up to our state’s full potential.
Seven years later, we are not just One Maryland. By many measures, we are Number One Maryland:
Just listen with me for a quiet moment.
Maryland today is number one in our students’ AP success for seven years in a row;
Number one in education five years in a row;
Number one in holding down the cost of college tuition;
Number one in innovation and entrepreneurship for two years in a row, according to the United States Chamber of Commerce;
Number one in Ph.D. scientists and researchers;
Number one in businesses owned by women;
And number one in median household income.
This is what the people of our state have achieved together. And together we applaud their hard work.
Governing in a Different Way
Seven years ago—in response to the desires of our people—we set out to govern in a fundamentally different way.
Setting goals. Measuring performance. Hitting deadlines. Getting Results. Making the work of progress visible for you to see, and for me to see.
Every day, the test of any policy, action, or expenditure, has been whether or not it is actually working—working to produce the intended results.
In the past, our states and indeed our country, have been governed by a top-down approach. Hierarchical and bureaucratic. Shouting orders from somewhere above.
But that’s not the world we live in any more.
This generation is not about command and control. This generation seeks good ideas on level ground. Everywhere.
It is fundamentally entrepreneurial, operationally collaborative, it is performance measured, connected, and relentlessly inter-active.
It is the new way.
This generation wants its government to be accountable for its action, and accountable for the results we seek.
Today in Maryland, you can go online right now, and see the 16 strategic goals we have set for our State’s progress, in the areas of job creation, education, security, sustainability, and health.
On some of these, we’ve already exceeded our initial goals. On others, we’re making progress. And on a few, we still have a longer way to go.
Progress requires accountability.
But accountability means putting your commitment out there, for all of us to know and see, and hopefully to help drive.
One example: In 2007, one of the goals we publicly set was to drive down our infant mortality rate by 10 percent, by the end of 2012.
A lot of people told us at the time not to make the commitment public.
You see, the old way of thinking says elected officials should never set measurable goals with deadlines, because you’ll be criticized if you fall short.
We chose a different path.
We set real goals with specific, and more immediate, deadlines.
We publish Plans of Delivery.
We call upon the public to hold us accountable and to help us achieve our goals.
And we use the pressure of public awareness to push for maximum progress.
By the way, at the end of 2012, together we had driven down Maryland’s infant mortality rate—not by just 10 percent—but by 21 percent.
That means 164 lives saved just in 2012.
Of course, as you might have guessed, the reward for hitting or exceeding your goal is to set an even higher goal.
So we have—to save even more lives.
And we are in it together.
Goals. Deadlines. Performance measures.
Doing what works, and doing what serves.
This is how continuous progress is made.
This is how we create jobs.
We are one of only 17 states that has now recovered all of the jobs we lost in the national recession.
And since the lowest point of the recession, we have now achieved the fastest rate of new job growth of any state in our region.
Public Education and Public Safety
This is how we improve public education. This is how we improve college degree attainment.
This is how we improve public safety.
Today, with courageous law enforcement officers, we have now reduced violent crime to 30 year lows.
With our first responders, shock trauma doctors and nurses, traffic deaths have been reduced now to the lowest levels in decades.
We enacted common sense measures to reduce gun violence.
We repealed the death penalty and replaced it with life without the possibility of parole.
And there are now fewer people incarcerated in Maryland’s prisons today than at any time since 1994.
Goals. Deadlines. Performance measures. This is also how we are making our air and our waters cleaner.
We have planted more trees on public lands in the last seven years than ever before.
We have added more renewable energy to our grid than any time since the Conowingo Dam was built 85 years ago.
More farmers are now planting cover crops to reduce nutrient runoff than ever before.
To protect our farmlands, our forests and our open space for the future, this year Maryland passed the milestone of preserving 1 million acres for our children’s future.
Together, we have taken the strongest actions in decades to make the Chesapeake Bay cleaner and healthier; strong actions that are restoring our menhaden, our blue crab, and our oyster populations.
And we are leading the states of our Bay watershed in cleaning up the Chesapeake—consistently meeting our two-year milestones, allowing less nitrogen and phosphorus to pollute our Bay today than seven years ago.
Measurable progress, by our hands, in our time, for the long term restoration of the Bay.
This is also how we better protect our most vulnerable young people.
Together, we’ve reduced childhood hunger, and today more children receive healthcare in Maryland than ever before.
We have reduced juvenile homicides by 44%.
We have reduced the number of children placed in foster care and group homes by 42%.
And along the way, we have come together, time and again, to protect the dignity of every Marylander.
For the first time in 350 years, we have now officially recognized our brothers and sisters of the native Piscataway People.
Together, so that the children of New American immigrants, can realize their full potential,we passed the DREAM Act in Maryland.
And, to protect the dignity of every child’s home—and ensure equal rights under the law for all Marylanders—we passed Marriage Equality.
Urgent Work to Do
But for all of our progress, we still have urgent work to do.
For all of our achievements, being accountable also means acknowledging when we have fallen short.
The healthcare website failed to perform as designed when it was launched – a source of great frustration—especially for those who were trying to obtain healthcare for the very first time.
My Administration has not succeeded at every first try, but we have never given up.
We learn from both success and failure.
Sometimes failure kicks the deepest spur.
So we will continue to improve. We will continue helping those seeking healthcare. And we will continue to enroll as many Marylanders as possible by the March 31st deadline.
But let’s not lose sight of the larger goal.
We have already, together, extended healthcare coverage to 453,000 people—many of them children—who did not have coverage before.
Now, thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, not a single person can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition, and no one can be dropped from their insurance because they get sick.
And with the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Brown and Secretary Sharfstein– and I must add, the support of our Congressional delegation led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Senator Cardin, Congressman Van Hollen and Congresswoman Edwards – earlier this month we embarked on a new and better way to improve wellness and reduce overall healthcare costs.
Let me talk about this for a second.
The old payment system for health care, encouraged the volume of services instead of the wellness of our people. The more sickness, the more pay.
It was a system that made it look as if even our hospitals needed hospitals. But not any more.
This new approach will change our payment system to reward hospitals for actually keeping people well.
It has been described by healthcare experts as “without any question, the boldest proposal in the United States in the last half century.”
Ten of our forty-six hospitals in Maryland have already adopted this new approach – partnering with nursing homes, public health agencies, primary care doctors, wellness professionals and others, to keep their communities well.
It works. It achieves results. It’s a better way. And it will improve wellness.
For us here in Maryland, the question has never been whether we move left or whether we move right, it is whether we move forward or whether we move back.
As One Maryland, we choose to move forward.
An Economy with a Human Purpose
Because progress is a choice.
And we have important work to accomplish this year.
With all of the strides we’ve made in education, this session we have the ability to advance universal pre-k in Maryland.
This session, we have the responsibility to improve our laws to better protect victims of domestic violence.
We also have the chance, this session, to come together, forge consensus, and raise the minimum wage in Maryland.
To strengthen and grow our middle class—this has been the North Star of everything that we have done as an Administration. Our fiscal discipline. Our strategic investments. Our different way of governing for results.
Together, here in Maryland:
•We’ve invested dearly, to improve education as a ladder to success.
•We are investing more than ever in our transportation infrastructure, to get more of our people back to work.
•We raised the Earned Income tax credit. Why? To better reward hard work.
•We became the first state in the country to pass a living wage.
•We put in place for the first time a progressive income tax,… reducing income taxes for 86 percent of Marylanders.
•Just last calendar year, we moved more people than ever from welfare to work.
Because of these actions, the Pew Foundation now ranks Maryland one of the top three states for upward economic mobility.
But we, of course, are part of a larger national economy. And something is still very wrong.
We’ve lost sight of how our economy works when it is working well.
Prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top.
It never has.
It’s built from the middle out—and from the middle up.
Henry Ford understood that 100 years ago, when he doubled the pay of all his workers. His fellow capitalists thought he was crazy. But he understood that America worked best – and our economy worked best – if workers could afford to buy the products they were making.
In other words, in a properly functioning capitalist economy, a thriving middle class is not a consequence of growth and prosperity—it is the source of growth and prosperity.
When every worker earns more money, every business has more customers, and – by the way – every taxpayer is relieved from funding poverty programs, for workers who are being paid poverty-level wages.
We have all met the hard-working people who toil away—very often—at not one but two jobs that pay minimum wage.
Most often they are women. Very often they are moms who are trying support a child or two on their own. Leaning on everyone around them for day care. Working 16-hour days, and yet falling further behind.
This is not how our economy should work – no person who works full-time and plays by the rules, should be forced to raise their family in poverty. Not in our state.
Should we be satisfied as a people, as a country, as a State, if our corporations are becoming ever more profitable and yet so many of our people are unemployed?
Can we really say that our economy is working, if our stock market is booming, but middle class earnings are declining?
The economy we seek in Maryland is an economy with a human purpose.
Where the ranks of our middle class are growing, so our economy itself can grow.
And the only way we’re going to grow our economy is to grow our middle class.
Increase the Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Maryland is no longer a wage that anyone can live on.
Even though Maryland has the highest median income in the nation – 21 other states have now set a higher minimum wage than ours.
We can do better.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is going to create more and better customers for Maryland businesses.
And that is why raising the minimum wage in Maryland is not only good for the hundreds of thousands who will see a boost in their paychecks, it is good for every Marylander, because it is good for our economy.
It’s time to raise the minimum wage.
The Future We See
I believe in my heart that we are poised for a generation of greatness.
I can see the day on our horizon when the achievement of our students leads not just our nation, but the world.
I can see the day when all of our teachers have the technology to provide personalized learning, tailored to every student’s unique abilities in the classroom.
A day when every high school student in Maryland graduates with a modern technical skill and a year of college credit already earned.
I see Maryland’s children enjoying the benefits of a State that wisely safeguards its waters and woodlands and open spaces, for the 22nd century and beyond.
A State that leads the green economy of the future, creating thousands of new jobs.
I see a time fast approaching when our booming high tech economy is fueled by the talent of an ever more highly-skilled workforce.
And yes, I see a rapidly growing middle class whose standard of living is rising – a growing and diverse middle class that has become the forerunner of a newer, better American economy.
I can see the year that is coming when not a single child in Maryland will die a violent death.
This is the future that remains to be won. And it will be won.
We are standing at the threshold of a new era of American progress.
As our world becomes more complex, it is also becoming more personalized and better connected. And no state is better poised to succeed in this new era than Maryland.
The future is where we look. The past is what we have learned from.
The only things worth doing are the things that might possibly break your heart.
For 230 years, we have helped lead our country forward, into the future – especially through moments of doubt and adversity. When others said it was impossible, that all was lost, or it could not be done, we stood our ground. And we made it happen.
From many, one. From one, many.
It is time for us to do it again.