ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 2, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley delivered the 2010 State of the State address today before a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly, his fourth such address as Governor. The Governor’s address focused on job creation initiatives, and the need to work together, as One Maryland, to bring our State through this national economic recession more quickly than other states.
“In times of great adversity, we don’t make excuses – we make progress. We set aside partisanship and embrace the power of citizenship, guided by the values which unite us,” said Governor O’Malley. “In every part of our State I meet good people who have worked hard all their lives, only to watch their piece of the American dream slip away because of forces seemingly beyond their control. To rebuild and restore our economy, we must help our businesses create and save jobs. Jobs from innovation in science, security, and discovery. Jobs of noble and valuable service. Jobs that create and rebuild our vital connections of travel, trade, and business. Jobs that revitalize and restore our environment. Jobs in teaching, manufacturing, and healing. They all matter.”
A complete text of the Governor’s text as prepared for delivery is available here.
Governor O’Malley stressed the need for smart, sustainable government, noting that progress is only possible with fiscal responsibility. For four straight years, Governor O’Malley has submitted, and the General Assembly has passed, a budget that falls within strict spending affordability guidelines. And for the first time since the 1930s, General Fund spending is less now than it was four years ago. Total spending reductions are $5.6 billion under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, including over 3,500 state positions.
Maryland is one of only seven states to retain a Triple A bond rating, certified by all three major rating agencies. Maryland’s unemployment rate remains over 25 percent below the national average, and Maryland’s rate of job change was better than all but five other states last year.
Despite these positive economic indicators in Maryland, too many Maryland families are struggling through this recession, facing the loss of a job or their homes through no fault of their own. Governor O’Malley outlined specific strategies to create jobs, protect homeownership, and drive economic progress.
“Because of your work and the persistence of non-profit housing counselors and pro bono lawyers, many homes in Maryland have been saved, but many more have been lost in the relentless, grinding, home-destroying machinery of national mortgage companies. If they can pick up the phone to put a family into a home, shouldn’t they be able to pick up the phone before throwing a family out of their home,” Governor O’Malley said, urging members of the General Assembly to pass foreclosure mediation legislation that gives every Maryland homeowner the right to meet face-to-face with the mortgage company as part of a foreclosure proceeding.
He went on to outline initiatives to create jobs in Maryland, including:
* Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit (HB 92) would provide businesses a $3,000 per employee tax credit for every unemployed Marylander they hire. This tax credit could combine with President Obama’s proposed $5,000 federal tax credit to promote job creation.
* Streamline the loan approval process for small businesses and expand access to credit by creating the Maryland Small Business Credit Recovery Program, offering a loan guaranty on small business deals through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s current loan guaranty program - the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority Program (MIDFA).
* $83 million in immediate tax relief for Maryland small business owners, and the infusion of $127 million in federal funds to stabilize the unemployment insurance trust fund.
* Expanding the existing Heritage Tax Credit, reauthorizing as a Sustainable Communities Tax Credit by making Main Streets, Maple Streets, and transit-oriented development projects eligible for the credit (in addition to historic properties).
Even in difficult economic conditions, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has made the tough choices to move our State forward, achieving real progress for Maryland families:
* For the second straight year, Maryland has been ranked by Education Week magazine as the number one ranked public school system in the nation.
* Alone among the 50 states – we have made college more affordable for more families in Maryland by going four years in a row without a penny’s increase in college tuition for Maryland residents.
* Violent crime in Maryland has been driven to its lowest levels since 1987 – including the steepest three-year reduction in homicides since the 1970s, and a 46 percent reduction in juvenile homicides over the same period.
* Nearly 115,000 more people in Maryland have health coverage today who did not have it three years ago – 60,000 of them children.
* Four rivers of the Chesapeake Bay are now getting healthier every year rather than sicker, and the O’Malley-Brown Administration has preserved five and half times the amount of open space than we did before.
* The Blue Crab population is rebounding, and we are finally embracing the power of a new aquaculture industry to bring back the native Oyster.
“But in order to move forward as One Maryland, there is another kind of work which we must do as a people. It is not the work of our hands or of our heads, but of our hearts. For there is a dark thing that has penetrated deep into our collective soul, a thing that has to be recognized, seen for what it is and rejected by us all. It is the debilitating and un-American idea that our children will not enjoy a better quality of life than we have, that somehow we are destined to decline, backslide and fail,” said Governor O’Malley. “With every fiber of my being, I reject this notion. I find it utterly unacceptable and so do the generations ahead of ours. This recession will end. Our journey is not over. And our best days are still in front of us.”