The Democratic response to Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address, as delivered by House Majority Leader Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery).

Good afternoon. I am Delegate Anne Kaiser, Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates.

I would like to start by welcoming Governor Larry Hogan and his Administration to the Maryland State House. In the Maryland General Assembly, we are used to working across party lines. In fact, the vast majority of legislation that passes through committees and the floor of the House and Senate is supported by both Republicans and Democrats.

As Majority Leader, I really look forward to working with the Governor, Minority Leader Nic Kipke, and all of my colleagues in the House and Senate, to tackle the issues facing our great State.

Maryland is a growing and thriving State, boasting one of the best education systems in the country and being among the wealthiest states in the Union for the last five years in a row. We believe that success is tied directly to having a well-educated workforce. As Marylanders, we pride ourselves on having a quality K-12 education system and affordable accessible higher education at both the community college and four year college levels.

As Democrats, we believe the most important investment government can make is in a well-educated, well-trained workforce. When you ask businesses why they start or stay in Maryland, the number one reason is a highly educated workforce and quality schools for their employees and their families.

The US Chamber of Commerce has ranked Maryland as the best state in the country for entrepreneurship – the best state in the country -- and named Maryland one of the next ten boom states in the US. We are home to the most cutting edge technology companies. We are quickly becoming the national hub for cybersecurity, with the NSA, Fort Meade and other federal intelligence resources headquartered in Maryland. In my home county, Montgomery County, we are building a world-class biotechnology corridor, with the private sector, higher education and government agencies working together to drive biotechnology advancements and new economic development.

Ultimately, we cannot grow our economy, boost private sector confidence to invest, expand, or attract new business to Maryland without a strong, educated workforce. We have achieved an 86% high school graduation rate, a record high, with our students graduating on time and able to compete in a global economy. But, as University of Maryland College Park President Dr. Wallace Loh said: we need to “out-educate, out-innovate, and out-compete our global competitors.”

To promote prosperity in Maryland, we must close the achievement gap for poor and minority students by fully funding and modernizing every classroom in the State. We must also restructure the State’s economic development to better help the private sector navigate State government and improve customer service delivery to every taxpayer in the State.

We take seriously our role as the stewards of the Chesapeake Bay – an environmental jewel, but also an engine for Maryland’s economy. We have made significant progress over the past decade in reseeding oyster beds, updating wastewater treatment plants, and curbing stormwater runoff into the Bay and local waterways but we cannot move backwards. We must maintain this commitment to ensure that watermen and boaters and all Marylanders can enjoy our waterways for generations to come.

Maryland also has the best healthcare delivery system in the country. Our Shock Trauma system is revered around the world. If you or your loved one make it to Shock Trauma within the “golden hour” after an accident, you have a 97 percent chance of survival. We have invested in new Medevac helicopters to ensure that you have access to the best possible healthcare whether you live in the mountains of Western Maryland, the shores of Ocean City or around the corner from a trauma center.

To sustain success in Maryland, we must expand drug treatment options in order to combat heroin, prescription and other drug abuse that has devastated communities across Maryland.

We cannot be satisfied with the progress we have made. The Democrats in the House and Senate are committed to working with Governor Hogan to continue to move our State forward.

Now that the election is over, the real work of governing begins. Working together, we can ensure a better Maryland.

•A Maryland whose future success lies with a strong well-educated middle class

•A Maryland that fuels opportunities centered around the best schools in America and access to the highest quality community colleges and universities

•A Maryland with the finest healthcare delivery system for all of its citizens

•A Maryland that prides itself on being the stewards of the Chesapeake Bay

And a Maryland that believes that its greatest opportunities are still in front of us. It is our responsibility over the next four years to meet these challenges for all Marylanders.

Thank you.