Text of Glendening's Prepared Remarks
Four years ago, we began a journey together. Our goal - our commitment - was to move Maryland forward.
Working together, we turned our agenda into action. And we turned our promises into progress for the people of Maryland.
Look around. All over our state, new schools are going up and older schools are being renovated so we can reduce class size.
More parents are able to save for college. And new jobs -- whole new industries - are waiting for our children when they graduate.
There is new hope and optimism in our older neighborhoods. And 60,000 children from working families have health coverage who did not have it before.
Incomes are up.
Taxes have been cut.
And crime is down.
Our air is cleaner and we have taken aggressive action to protect our beautiful bay from Pfiesteria.
Maryland is moving forward. Our families are better off and our futures are brighter than they were four years ago.
Look at the record. Look at the results.
Our top priority has been to improve our childrenís education. To reduce class size, we provided funding over the past four years to build, renovate, and modernize over 5,900 classrooms across our state. We increased education funding at every level and for every jurisdiction. We made an unprecedented investment in higher education, and we instituted a pre-paid tuition plan to make it easier for parents to save for their childrenís education. We set high standards for student performance and introduced accountability measures to ensure our historic investment in education is producing results. We have increased teachersí authority to remove disruptive students from the classroom. And we have given our teachers more control over classroom discipline and safety.
Working with schools and community volunteers, we brought computers and the Internet to classrooms from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland. And we instituted science, engineering, computer and technology scholarships to help prepare students for the jobs of the future.
Our economy is the strongest it has been in more than a decade. Our effort to create jobs has paid off: More than 103,000 new jobs have been created since 1995. Employment is at an all-time high and unemployment now stands at a 9-year-low.
We passed the first cut in income taxes in 30 years. We cut or eliminated 15 business taxes to make Maryland more competitive. We increased the Homeowners Tax Credit, which primarily benefits senior citizens. And first time homebuyers no longer pay a state transfer tax.
Our tax reductions will return more than $2 billion to taxpayers over the next five years.
Crime is down and Marylandís streets are safer. Violent crime has dropped. In fact, last year our violent crime rate dropped almost twice as fast as the national average.
We have enacted one of the toughest gun laws in the nation. And in the first full year of implementation, handgun sales dropped 25 percent. We funded 225 more state troopers to help fight crime. We targeted 35 "Hot Spot" neighborhoods for intensive law enforcement and crime prevention. Since 1995, we built or began design and engineering work on more than 4,500 prison beds to keep violent criminals off our streets.
We put teeth in the fight against juvenile crime by enacting laws that include a one-year mandatory expulsion for students who bring a gun to school. We have placed juvenile probation officers directly in more than 80 schools across the state. And through prevention and innovative programs like Break the Cycle, we are working to cut drug use and drug-related crime.
Weíve made real progress protecting the publicís health. We did this by expanding health care coverage and implementing new laws that force the HMOs to put patients ahead of profits by giving consumers a chance to appeal bad decisions. And we acted aggressively to protect public health and Marylandís waterways from the threat of toxic Pfiesteria.
We enacted one of the nationís toughest anti-smoking laws. We tripled the money being used to pay for breast cancer screening. And, when the insurance companies only wanted to pay for a 24-hour stay in the hospital for a woman and her newborn after delivery, we forced those insurance companies to increase that stay to at least 48 hours.
We also made real progress in protecting our environment. In partnership with the General Assembly, we created a pioneering plan to fight health-threatening Pfiesteria, to manage the nutrients that feed that bacteria, and to curb agricultural and animal waste runoff into Marylandís rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. We also passed Brownfields legislation to provide financial incentives to clean up contaminated industrial sites for redevelopment. And our Smart Growth plan to curb suburban sprawl, to protect Marylandís green spaces and rural legacy, and to direct state resources to established neighborhoods, has been hailed as a model for the nation.
We have come far on our journey. We have made real progress. And we have produced real results that have helped the people of Maryland.
But there is more to be done.
And that is why, today, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I announce our campaign for re-election.
We ask for your support. Together we can continue to move Maryland forward.
And that is the crucial decision of this year. We can continue to move Maryland forward, or move in the wrong direction.
Right now, we have a booming economy, a record surplus, and unprecedented investments in improving our childrenís education. We do not need slots and casinos to maintain this momentum. And we most certainly do not need the economic devastation and crime they have brought to other states that have made the mistake of trying to take the easy way out.
In the four years after casinos came to Atlantic City, more than a third of its retail businesses and 40 percent of its restaurants were closed and out of business. In Gulfport, Mississippi, the crime rate skyrocketed after casinos began operating. Rape tripled. Murder and car theft more than doubled. Juvenile violent crime shot up percent. Since the onslaught of casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, domestic violence increased almost 70 percent.
Slots and casinos are NOT the answer. Slots and casinos are NOT the future we want for our children or for our state.
Nor do we want to make the mistake of electing an extremist, with a far right agenda. Someone so out of step that she actually has proposed cutting public education, cutting health care, and cutting environmental protection programs.
We do not want to make the mistake of electing someone who calls our schools "holding pens" as if they were prisons; a person who opposes gun control; a person who would take away a womanís right to choose; a person who opposed our plans to protect the Bay from toxic Pfiesteria. She even opposed expanding childrenís health care and called it an "entitlement."
To me, it is a question of values. I believe that in the third-richest state in the nation, our children are entitled to health care.
Citizens of Maryland, listen carefully. There is a lot at stake in this election.
And the choice is very clear.
We can gamble with our childrenís future. And we can turn the clock back on the progress we have made. Or we can continue to work together to move Maryland forward. We can continue to build a brighter future for our children, and to shape our state with our boldest dreams and best hopes.
It is our goal to reduce class size, starting with math and reading classes.
It is our goal to build on the work we have done to train our work force for the jobs of the future.
It is our goal to continue to reduce crime. We will not be happy until every child in every family, in ever community, is sage.
We want to institute a patientís Bill of Rights to ensure that medicine in Maryland is a matter of patient care, not profit protection.
We want to expand access to college.
We want to integrate mass transit systems statewide so citizens can move easily from one community to another.
Kathleen and I have learned a lot in the last four years. And the truest lesson we have learned is that when we work together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome, there is no goal we cannot reach, and there is no reason we cannot make Maryland the best state in the nation to work, to raise a child and to build a family.
Weíre well on our way. All we need is your help and support. Now, together, letís go finish our journey. Thank you very much.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company