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O'Malley Strikes Resolute Tone in Annual Address


Governor Martin O'Malley this afternoon delivered his State of the State address, in which he praised the election of Barack Obama and Maryland's achievements in education and public safety, and urging the state to fight through its current economic trials.

Some excerpts from the prepared version of the speech follow. Read the full prepared speech (.pdf file) at the governor's Web site.

In our short time together, I would like to talk with you about our hard-won progress, the serious economic challenges at hand, and the choices and actions we must take today in order to stand up for the families of our State in these tough economic times,... And finally, I want to talk with you about how, together, we will emerge from this recession with the real hope of a better future for all of Maryland's children.

Thanks to the tough decisions we've made together over these last two years, the state of our State is once again strong enough to overcome the very challenging times at hand. And with the inspired leadership of our new President, Barack Obama, we finally have a federal partner who shares our commitment to progress.

Even as we face the most serious national economic crisis in recent history, our unemployment rate is 19% lower than the national rate (the 15th lowest in the nation). We remain one of only seven states to earn a Triple A bond rating. And we continue to draw upon clear competitive advantages in key Maryland business sectors like life-sciences, bio-technology, information technology, aerospace and healthcare....
But for all our progress, I cannot sugarcoat the difficulty of these times. I receive letters every day from fellow citizens throughout our State, hard-working and honest people, bravely searching for a way forward in this tough economy. ... People like "Robert" from Baltimore County, a 53 year old college student one trimester away from graduating college. "Robert" wrote to me in December, and I want to share with you part of his letter as well:

"Unfortunately my funds and loans have been depleted at this point. ... I'm a father of three and my oldest son recently had to move back home due to kidney failure and [congestive] heart disease. This has increased my [wife's and my] financial struggles. It is my most humble request that your office or any part thereof assist me financially in paying for my final trimester in College. This has been a long journey for me and to graduate with honors would truly be a major blessing. ... I'm six months away from a 35 year old dream."...

It is up to us in Maryland to respond to the inaugural challenge of our new President, who called upon us "to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." The year ahead will be difficult, but we're fighting back and we're moving forward....

We are leading the nation in the fight against the rising tide of foreclosures. We've assembled an army of more than 700 volunteer lawyers to aid at-risk homeowners. With our faith-based and non-profit partners, we've invested millions of dollars to provide the services of foreclosure prevention counselors to thousands of Maryland families. And we've negotiated agreements with half a dozen loan servicers to help borrowers and lenders find alternatives to foreclosure.

Unfortunately, some companies like Wells Fargo continue to ignore this crisis, with no regard for the hardworking families of our State. Rather than stepping up to the plate (let alone even picking up the phone) for our most vulnerable neighbors, they choose short-term profit over long-term homeownership....

In Maryland, we are in a better position than other states to climb out of this national recession, but until that day comes, as every family in our State is forced to do more with less, so too must we. ... It is my hope, and it is my belief, and it is my expectation that the balanced budget we were required by law to submit this month will be a better budget by the time it's up for final consideration in April....

We could have even more resources to accomplish all of these important goals if you would follow me in abolishing an outdated, expensive, and utterly ineffective death penalty in Maryland. I'd like to publicly thank former Attorney General Civiletti, who is with us in the Gallery today, and everyone who served on the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment for your hard work, dedication, and fairness, and your respect for differences of opinion.

Decent people can disagree on this issue, but as your governor, I ask that you give this important moral question of repeal of the death penalty a fair up-or-down vote in both houses of this legislature....

We have some very important choices to make in the months ahead, choices which will help determine who we are as a people and what kind of future we will leave to our children.

As we make these choices, the very good news is that we actually have a President and a Congress who - rather than looking at government as the enemy - are committed to moving us forward again as a nation.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  January 29, 2009; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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