Maryland Association of Counties keynote address

Uploaded by StateMaryland on 22.08.2010

I love the ocean. Thereís something about being at the ocean that always
reminds us of being kids and makes us hopeful about the future.
This is where I first got up the nerve in 1986 to approach Katie O'Malley
and try to chat her up. (Laughter.) It was a very short conversation. (Laughter.)
But I was as persistent and as resilient then as I am now! (Applause.)
I want to talk with you a little bit about our shared challenges,
about our shared opportunities, about the reality that all of
us face together. And also about the most important imperative that
we have right now and it can all be summed up in one
word with four letters and that is jobs.
It's been a challenging time and yet our State continues to look forward,
in no small part due to all of you. And you build on the accomplishments
the people of our State have made in the past, and in the toughest of times you protect
those priorities and you lead us forward. I want to say two special thanks youís
to friends who have been outstanding leaders of our State, these last
8 years now or more and they are County Executive Jim Smith and Council
Commission President Jan Gardiner. You guys have been terrific. (Applause.)
You've both been outstanding. And I think the people of our State
should consider themselves very, very fortunate that people like you,
Jim and also Jan, have given so much of your energy
and your time, and some of the best years of your lives to protecting
our shared priorities and moving us forward in tough times.
I saw Ike and Catherine Leggett walking in a little earlier. (Applause.)
I saw Ingrid Tuner out there, and I spent some time with Mayor
Stephanie Rawlings Blake. Look uh,
These last few years have been difficult years and I will always consider it one
of the great honors of my life that I had the privilege really and the blessing
to serve with all of you in these times. Not because they were easy, but because
they were hard and not withstanding the difficulties ahead of us.
But nonetheless, all of us clung tightly to those beliefs that unite us:
a belief in the dignity of every individual, a belief in our own
responsibility to advance the greater good, and an understanding that we
are all in this together. And that we progress as a people not on the
weakness, but on the strength of our neighbors. And that is why
we're able to move forward as a State. Today, you know, it's hard to use a
metaphor of these last stormy economic years. Especially given
all the real life weather events that we've been going through.
For Ike Leggett and the people in Montgomery County --
after the tornado, after the floods, after the snowstorms, after the thunderstorms
-- they're all looking up in the sky waiting for the locusts to come in next.
These have been tough years economically, and they've been tough years in terms
of the weather. Just poudning through the towns. But to date
I want to let you know right off the bat that we have
been approved for upwards of $25 million in Federal reimbursements
for the storms,the snowstorms we faced last year. And we continue
to work to secure additional Federal dollars. I came across
this today and I wanted to share it with you.
I was reading earlier this morning and it goes like this, from,
one of our favorites Jim, Thomas Merton, who writes,
ìit is not [right] to despair the present, merely putting
off hope into the future. There is also a very essential hope that
belongs in the present, and is based on the nearness of the hidden God,
and His spirit in the present.î
I want to talk with you about that present. I want to talk with you
about coming out of these economic storms ahead of other states and
stronger than other states. And I also want to talk with
you about the truth the rythm home solo parent thing
for all of us these last three years of challenge.
And that truth is this: that there is no more powerful place
in our State than a family's home and there is nothing more critically essential
for protecting that home than a job. So I want to talk with you about jobs
and I wannt to speak with you honestly about a clear reality, about the choices
before us. The choices that we make, the choices that we are making,
the choices that we must continue to make in order to improve the conditions
that allow businesses -- large, medium and small -- to save jobs, retain jobs
and create jobs. Because that is what itís going to take to move our State forward.
Making the tough decisions, the right decisions,the tough but
right choices to move us forward. And also being able to answer
that question that has confronted our republic since the first days of 0:05:36.900,0:05:40.760 it's founding--I think we would all agree that our focus absolutely
has to be on jobs. And on this front I am glad to be able
to share with you some good news that I have not been able to share
in any one of the four times that Iíve come here for this final wrap-up.
Jim Roby tell your wife we have some good news -- go ahead
Here ís the good news: we have achieved togetheras a people
over these last five months, not one, not two, not three, not four,Ö
but five months in a row of positive job growth. (Applause.)
So repeat after me MACO Five months -in a row- of positive job growth.
Doesn't' that feel good to say? It is. (Applause.)
Let me share with you a little perspective on this.
This is the first time in over four years that we have had
five months in a row of positive job growth. So far cummulatively.
And weíre not out of the woods yet. We're going to keep creating jobs
every single month. But get this - It's approximately 40,000 new jobs,
which is the best first half of the year that weíve had in net
new job creation since 1999. It is a rate of job growth -- get this --
over these last five months that is more than three times
what the national rate of job growth has been over these last five months.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that we are one of the two best states for
entrepreneurship and innovation. Moody's, Fitch, and Standard
and Poor's have given us -- one of only eight states
a Triple A bond rating, which always makes Eloise Foster smile. Come on Eloise. Smile.
A Triple A bond rating, one of only eight, thatís the gold
standard in fiscal responsibility. The Milken Institute says that
our State, your State, our One Maryland, invests more in our human capital ñ
the education and the talents and the skills of our people ñ
and does a better job of it, than any other state in the country.
And in the midst of the toughest of times, we have been named
not just once, but two years in a row,by Education Week
magazine as having the best public schools in America. (Applause.)
And none of that, as you know, happened by accident,
it was the product of choice. Choices made not with a view to
the next election,but choices made with a view to the next generation.
And those are the same choices we need to make now in order to
continue to move forward. I want to talk with you a little bit
about the budget, about the picture and how weíre looking at present.
In the past four years, you and I together have cut more
in state spending than during any four year period in Maryland history.
After General Fund spending had increasedby 33 percent under
our predecessor, we have reduced state spending by three
percent over these last four years. It is a lower level
and I believe the first time this has ever happened since
the Great Depression -- that our State spending is
actually lower than it was four years ago. The size of our State government
on a per capita basis is smaller than itís been at any time since 1973.
Thereís a few -- as we closed out this session, thereís a few positive
developments that have happened since then that is going to be of
some help as we move forward. Positive development number one:
we anticipated closing with a General Fund reserve --
we donít call these surpluses, right -- a General Fund reserve of $130 million.
That General Fund reserve -- because of the job creation,
which then led to revenues being up, means that we closed out last year with
a General Fund reserve of now $300 million. So that's a positive number. (Applause.)
We had no certainty that our Congress, even though we have a great
Congressional delegation,led by Barbara Mikulski, and Steny Hoyer,
Elijah Cummings, Frank Kratovil, Donna Edwards,Chris Van Hollen,
Ben Cardin, John Sarbanes,and Dutch Ruppersberger,Ö we had
no guarantee that they were going to actually pass that extended Medicaid
bill, but in point of fact, just two weeks ago they did pass it,
so $289 million is coming to us that that there was no guarantee
of our receiving. That's about $100 million less than we hoped ,but hey
thatís $289 million that we are able to guarantee. so all of that is good news.
And also, our Congress and our President also passed an education jobs bill:
I know ----- and everybody here who are teachers;$179 million of
unanticipated education aid is coming to us. So, all three of those
are positive things. We are in a position to rebound, recover and
reinvigorate our economic engine, you already see it starting to happen.
But we have a lot of tough choices ahead of us. Thereís things stand,
as we closed out the last legislative session we were looking at a gap,
because of this recession,of about $1.5 billion that we needed to close.
All of those things are positive moves in the right direction.
We hope that when the revenue estimates come out in September, it will show
continued improvement if we can continueto keep creating jobs.
We have to keep making right and difficult decisions to move forward.
We have a range of options ahead of us. And I think one of the things that
I love best about all of you who serve in local government
is that you trust that the people that you serve are actually intelligent enough
to figure out a way forward, if we're honest enough about the options ahead
of us. And thatís absolutely what we need to be as we move
forward into the year ahead. We're doing a couple of things.
One, we have assembled a special commission on pensions; the cost of pensions,
the responsibility for pensions, the sustainability of pensions,
and we will absolutely have local government input and voice on that commission.
We want to reach a consensus, even as we emerge out of this recession and try
to figure out what the new normal is, in terms of rate of economic growth,
responsible, anticipated return on investments, we need to figure
out the range of options that are available to us so that we can
fulfill our responsibilities and the promises made in a sustainable way.
And also moving forward, we have a blue ribbon commission that we assembled
by statute on our transportation needs. Thereís some good news on the global horizon
recently about how Germanyís economy is stabilizing. Well, Germany invests
probably 10 percent of their gross domestic product in infrastructure,
transportation. We invest, as a nation, only about two percent. And we need to
figure this out. We need to come to terms with it. Itís certainly
more than any one state can do by itself, but itís certainly
a place where Maryland can and should lead and should be able to find a way forward.
So weíll lay out the range of options before us on transportation as well.
I know one of the more painful cuts that we had to make in recent times was
the highway user revenues. Through a very heavy-lifting special session,
through two General Assembly sessions, through five rounds of Board of Public
Works cuts, we were able to protect highway user revenues, even as we made
very, very tough choices.including the elimination of some state jobs,
and instituting mandatory, unpaid furloughs. I know how painful though that these
highway user revenue cuts have been to you and to most counties and your
colleagues especially in our towns and our cities. The fact that we were
able to avoid cutting those for about seven different rounds of cuts,
I hope is some of the clearest indication to you that it's my hope that
as we come out of this recession, they will be some of the first cuts
that we are able to start restoring, along with the furlough days to our
state employees. I wish I could tell you when those dollars will
be there that will allow us to do that, I canít. I donít have a
crystal ball. But when that day comes Iím looking forward to joining with you
and hopefully having some more positive news on that front.
To move our State forward, we are though advancing
public-private partnerships and I encourage all of you to
do the same thing. Maybe itís in sale or lease-back arrangements on school
construction or other things of that nature. We are creating 5,700
new jobs at the Port of Baltimore. One of the critical links to that
innovation economy is engaging in the global economy. And, therefore --
and only because of the unique public-private partnership --
unique not only to our state, but the largest such deal concluded in
the United States last year -- weíre getting big investments,
so that when those larger ships now pass through the Panama Canal,
they won't pass by Maryland. We'll be able to accommodate those larger ships
and, more importantly, create 5,700 jobs in the process. Half of them are
construction jobs,the other half are ongoing jobs. Moving forward,
we also have created in this last General Assembly session a new
Hiring Tax Credit, $5,000 for any company -- large, medium or small --
that hires a Marylander off the unemploymentrolls and gets them
back to work. So far 364 moms and dads have returned to work at family
owned businesses and large businesses alike, because of that tax credit.
We have also created a Small Business Loan Guaranty , an idea brought to us
by Christian Johansson, who I also note was named one of the 2010 Innovators
of the Year. (Applause.) And one of those innovations was the
Small Business Loan Guaranty to try to prime the pumps of small business
lending on our main streets, a still critically important challenge and mission.
So far weíve done about $6.4 million in loans that otherwise would not have
happened had it not been for that loan guaranty. And we look forward
to partnering with our Federal government, as soon as they pass
the bill that allows us to expand that fund. We are moving
forward, not back, with more than 700 jobs this fiscal year
being supported by our newly expanded ñ and passed with your help, again MACOís
help ñ Sustainable Communities Tax Credit. Nearly 9,300 jobs are being supported
by the $1.3 billion investment that we have made over these last four years in
school construction. That's a record amount that we have invested in school
construction,because we move forward and not back. (Applause.)
There's 60,000 jobs that are coming to our State because of the base realignment
closure process that Lieutenant Governor has been deeply involved in since the
first days of this Administration. On top of those 60,000 jobs,
there was an announcement very, very quietly a few weeks ago by NSA
(that does everything very, very quietly), that there are 21,000 jobs that are
going to be coming to your State as the cyber security demand is
consolidated --Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, what the Navy
calls their 10th Fleet, the cyber security assets. 21,000 jobs.
And that's just the direct jobs, thatís before we even get into the
private contractors that will have to be serving that critically important
and new security mission for our nation. We have thousands of jobs that we are
supporting because for the very first time we are approaching, on our MBE
gold a 25%,long been on the books but never ever hit it but in the
toughest of times --thanks to many of the department agency heads
and the drive of so many of you in this room--,we are probably going
to hit that 25 % for the first time, in the middle of a recession.
Our greatest job created potential, as all of you know is fuel.
We are an innovated economy. Innovation's primary ingredient
is education; the education, the talents, the skills of our people.
Not just K to 12, but for those critical middle skills, for the
two years for the certifications or beyond for the four year skills.
Maryland's economy, presently and increasingly is an innovation
economy. Is an innovation economy. I mentioned earlier that the Chamber
of Commerce named us one of the top two best states for innovation and
entrepreneurship. And together with all of you and the people that we serve
and the investments and the commitments that we make, you're seeing the results
of this in jobs across our State, advancing life sciences, high-tech,
clean-tech, green-tech, bio-tech, information technology, cyber-security.
Some of the strong forces of our economy are the forces that are going to be
pulling our country into this future transformation. This is a transformational
time. Part of the pain we are feeling is because of that transformation. And in
any transformation there is pain. It was true of the agricultural revolution,
the industrial revolution, the information revolution, ... but in that pain is also
tremendous opportunity. And there is no other State that is better
equipped than ours to tap into that opportunity and that promise
of the future. We have some unique set assets; world's
leading institutions of higher learning and science, healing
and discovery, 58 Federal agencies with facilities, Fortune 500
companies, the highest concentration of PhDís and engineers in America,
and one of America's most highly skilled and resilient workforces.
Because of our innovation economy in Maryland, we know that the
investments that improve and protect the education of our children are
investments that also expand economic opportunity.Education and economic opportunity
go together like eggs and breakfast. We understand that and we understand
that better than most states. So in times when virtually every
other state in the country is making also record budget cuts and spending reductions,
we have nonetheless been able to protect the very assets that are going to pull
us out of this recession and make us stronger on the other side.
That's what it's going to take. When these waves of change come,
we don't do our children any favors by running to the back of the wave.
We have always been able to create a better future for our kids by
going to the front of the wave, by catching that wave, by making the
hard work that moves us forward. And that's what we need to do today.
Get this, in these four years we have been able to increase by 65 percent
the number of our high school kids that are taking science, technology,
engineering, and math AP level courses in our high schools. What does that
say about us? I think it says that we have a better future ahead of us. 0:21:57.030,0:22:00.100 Now, let me ask you this question that I ask all around our State:
ìhow many of you believe firmly that you enjoy a better life than your
parents and grandparents enjoyed? Better quality of life than your
parents or grandparents?" Let me ask you this second question:
ìhow many of you believe just as firmly today that your children
and grandchildren will enjoy that better life?î A little pause,
right? A little hesitancy. I tell you what, Iíve asked
that question in some corners of our State and not a single
hand goes up. But when I ask that question of younger people,
every hand goes up. We have a tremendous future ahead of us.
There is not another State that is better equipped or better prepared
to make this transformation than your State. We all know
that this is an election year. We all know that there will be
other candidates making all sorts of promises over the next
few months trying to tell people that we can eat cake and lose weight
or anything else that they feel will get an applaud or a clap or a vote.
There will be candidates that make, in fact, the very same promises that
they couldn't keep in easier times, eight years ago they'll be making
all of those same promises again. Iíve chosen a different strategy
and every year I've chosen to join with you and to level with
you and speak with you honestly about our shared reality.
Iíve chosen to call upon all of us to work together as a people,
and I'm committed to continuing that work with you, if it should
be the will of the people that we continue to serve. I think
we would all agree that the only way that we can move forward ñ
and really what the people of our State deserve especially
in tough times ñ is for all of us to be honest with one another.
And to be honest about the options ahead of us.
None of the decisions over these last tough times have been easy
decisions.The best days in life aren't easy, they're the hard ones
when you make the right decisions that you know are going to lead
to a better future. And it's because of that that we have
been able to create 40,000 jobs, three times the national rate of
job creation. It's because of that, that we are not putting
thousands of teachers in unemployment lines like
other states. Itís because of that that we have the
number 1 school system in America. Together, we've driven violent
crime down to its lowest level since 1975. The waters of the
Bay are cleaner than they've been at any time in the last
six years. The blue crab population is rebounding better than any scientist
would have predicted when we made those tough unpopular decisions
three years ago, because even the blue crabs know that in Maryland,
we move forward, not back! (Laughter & applause.)
And weíre the only state to go four years in a row without a penny's increase
in college tuition. I leave you with something that was written by John Ferling,
from his book about George Washington, The Ascent. And he said this about George Washington,
and I quote, he said: ìWashington was not given to looking backward.
He dwelled in the present with his eyes trained on the future.î
For all of the tough budgetary choices we make and for all of the
choices necessary in order to maintain fiscal responsibility and provide basic
services and public safety, public education,protecting our environment--
there is a more fundamental choice that's on the table this year in very
stark terms. And it is the same choice that Washington faced at
the beginning of this Republic. The choice is this: itís whether
we have the courage to dwell, to act, to hope and to create
in the present, with our eyes trained on the future. Or whether
we want to continue to embrace our fears and look over our shoulders
and wallow in the pain of the past. Because we can either have our fears
or we can have a better future for our kids,but we cannot have both.
And it's time to decide. It is time to choose as One Maryland, acting in
the present, with our eyes trained on the future, and moving forward together.
Thanks very, very much. (Applause.)