Excerpts from Gov. William Donald Schaefer's State of the State address to the General Assembly:

. . . I know you are somber today and so am I. I know that you just heard the president and so did I. I know that you watch television, as I do, and I know it's difficult for you to be up, difficult for you to wonder where we are going. But I want to tell you how I feel today.

I really come before you in a confident mood. I am confident because we live in America. And I said the other day, and I meant it, whenever there's trouble anywhere in the world, where do they go? Right to America. When they need economic aid, we're there. When there's human rights, we're there. When there's destruction, we're there. When it's a threat to freedom, we're there. So I'm confident that America's strong and we're still the world leaders. I've seen our people under most trying circumstances and I'm confident about our future, and I'm very confident about our forces in the Middle East . . . .

Let me start by talking about the state of the state. First thing, it's good. And I'll tell you one reason. You got elected and so did I. We got our AAA bond rating and we still retain it. We have a manageable deficit . . . . We worked out the savings and loan problem that we had. We repaired buildings and infrastructure that had been allowed to deteriorate for years. This legislature gave the people of Maryland a tax reduction. There isn't an area in this state where in the last four years you didn't help. And now we know where we've been. Where are we going? . . .

In the past I've used charts. I had people stand in the gallery. Today I'm not going to do that. Just going to have plain talk. No charts, just talk about the state of the state and our vision for the future . . . . This session I'm going to ask you to think about what's good for the whole state, in addition to your own district. I'm going to ask you to make some tough decisions. I'm going to ask you to look ahead. Think where the state is going in the next months, in the next few years. I'm going to ask you to be optimistic. I am. Even in the most difficult times. I'm going to ask you to be bold and not accept the status quo. Not to be timid. To step out. New approaches. Innovation. I'm going to ask you to have vision. I'm going to ask you to have determination. I'm going to ask you . . . to think about how the state will grow, how we'll educate our children, how we'll protect our citizens, how we will prepare for the next century that is just nine years away . . . .

What will our roads be like? Will it be like parking lots because we haven't been able to handle the traffic? You know and I know that we can't afford to let that happen. We must have decent highways, railroads, airports. We must have an up-to-date port. Now the problem is the Transportation Trust Fund is depleted. Without additional money, we can't get any more construction. It's just that simple. We can't afford to miss one or two or three paving seasons because our economy, our jobs, our forward movement will end.

We have a good idea how the recession is going to affect us. We are feeling it already. We have more people on welfare . . . . This is adding continually to the . . . deficit. Fewer people are paying bills. We had to make some very painful decisions just to balance the current budget. We've had to cut programs that touch Marylanders in every walk of life. All of you have people back home telling you what they want and what they don't want. They ask me for more {programs}, more expenditures, and my question is now, 'Where's the money?' The Linowes group spent three years looking over the state tax structure. They came up with some very interesting suggestions {on} how you can make it fair. There's an opportunity to reduce the tax rate. And localities would benefit also. Counties will end up sharing $462 million. Most of it would go to the kind of help the counties are asking for and that's in the area of education. I'm asking you to read the Linowes report. Look at the budget and decide if you're ready to turn your backs on those who need us most. Some have said Linowes is DOA -- Dead on Arrival. And I say some areas of the state will be DILINP -- Dead If Linowes Is Not Passed . . . .

All right, to help {Baltimore}, I plan to submit legislation to the General Assembly to have the state assume full responsibility for the city jail . . . . I'm also planning to ask the city to transfer ownership of the Baltimore Zoo to the state . . . .

And we're going to ask you to extend the 5 percent sales tax on gasoline.

We're going to ask you to be bold in the area of the environment . . . . We intend to preserve open spaces. Let me talk about growth. We're lucky that we're armed with facts. We know that a million people will be moving into the state in the next 30 years. We can adopt a 2020 Growth Plan this year and make sense out of the way new houses, schools, roads are being built for all of our people. Don't fool yourself. Most Marylanders want orderly growth, not unrestricted, costly sprawl. Doesn't it make sense to invest a little money now in planning for orderly growth, and then decide later how to serve all those homes that we will be building in the next 30 years? . . . .

Everyone talks to me about education. When we look ahead, do we know that we are preparing our children to handle a world that is so different from the one we're growing up in . . . ? We can make schools more accountable, which is absolutely essential. We can help schools that need it. We can encourage the best schools, find ways to teach the fundamentals, make sure every school gets a passing grade on the next report card . . . . We want to get the most for all our scholarship money. It seems only right that students who are willing to work for a college degree get some help from us. And the state can help the young, the needy, the deserving young people and make a difference in their lives. And we must keep college tuition, and the cost of college tuition, within reason. And we also must promote our own state colleges and universities, both public and private . . . .

We want to expand the vehicle emissions inspection program. We want to ban assault weapons, and keep guns away from kids. {We} want to tighten the seat belt law, make our highways safe.

We must continue our efforts in economic development . . . . We've got great opportunities, and we've got a plan that could have a big payoff later. We'd like to get the U.S. Olympic Festival to pick Maryland as a site for its events.

Let me talk about health . . . . I like the fact that Maryland is a leader, but I don't like to be leader in having the most cancer cases in our nation. And I tried to understand, looking at all the statistics yesterday on why. There was no real answer. I can't ask you to pass a bill requiring the medical community to find a cure for cancer, but I can ask you to get a cancer registry set up so we will get more information about the disease, who has it, where and why.

AIDS. I'm not satisfied with our progress. I expect to issue a new executive order and reorganize the AIDS Task Force.

What's made Maryland a leader? We've taken risks. We've pushed ahead. Sure it's easier to keep doing business the same old, tired way. It takes a little more to dig deeper, to try something new. It is so easy to do nothing . . . I repeat, we weren't elected to do that. And the state will march backward if we stand still . . . .

Anyone can lead when there's plenty of money and few problems. Anyone can lead when you accept the status quo, ignore the problems, lack vision. That's not for us. Mike {Miller} said to me the other day, I'm going to give you a quote from Abraham Lincoln: 'The probability that we may fail in a struggle ought not to deter from the support of a cause we believe to be just.' . . . And I say, these four years can be the most exciting and will be the most exciting and will be the most important and will be the most productive in the history of our state if we want them to be . . . .

You are here at a very special time, really a special time. People are apprehensive. People are worried. They are worried over the economy, loss of jobs. Most of all they are worried about their loved ones and what is going to happen in the war. We must keep the ship of state sailing full sail during this critical time. It is important that we not succumb to melancholy paralysis. We must be prepared when peace is restored . . . . We must take care of people now . . . .

Make sure that we make the most of our resources. One day the war will be over. One day we'll be out of the recession. Will we be ready? As we walk forward, there are a lot of things to do, and I'm going to ask you to do them.

First of all, read {my proposals}. You know, there's a tendency, because we put it in, to either accept it or reject it. That's not the way to do it. If you've got a better bill, if you've got some better ideas, I'd love to hear them . . . .

And then look at our proposals in education, the environment, safety, transportation, reorganization. Look at all of them. And look what we want to accomplish in 2020. Study the budget before you decide against the Linowes {report}. Decide if you are going to let the economy hold us hostage, keep us from tackling the tough issues, the answers that we need.

As usual, in difficult times in our history, we have two choices. We can play ostrich, bury our heads in the sand. Or we can take a stand, together. Let's not end up some footnote in state history, as doing nothing. Let's make history. So, I say this to you. Let's roll up our sleeves, and let's do it now. Thank you.