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Transcript of Gov. Moore’s State of the State address

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Transcript of Gov. Moore’s State of the State address

Feb 07, 2024 | 5:18 pm ET
By Maryland Matters Staff
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Transcript of Gov. Moore’s State of the State address
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Gov. Wes Moore (D) delivers his second State of the State address in the House chamber Wednesday. Photo from the Executive Office of the Governor.

Here is a transcript of Gov. Wes Moore’s second State of the State addressed, as delivered in the House chamber on Wednesday afternoon:

Madam Speaker;

Mister President;

Madam Lieutenant Governor;

Members of the General Assembly;

Members of our Congressional delegation;

Colleagues in state and local government;

And my fellow Marylanders:

One year ago, we began our work together.

We knew while we had boundless opportunities and blinding potential in the state, we were leaving too much on the table.

One year later, we still have work to do. We learned a lot of lessons, and some hard lessons. And solving big problems can’t happen overnight.

But let’s be clear: Change is happening.

And today: The state of our state is strong.

We have announced the creation of nearly 40,000 new jobs, many of them in communities that have been historically left behind.

We have the lowest unemployment rate in the country for the fifth month in a row.

Crime is down — and homicides in Baltimore City are the lowest they’ve been in nine years.

And communities that have gone underestimated and undervalued now have a seat at the table in the halls of power.

I’m proud of WHAT we’re doing. But I’m most proud of HOW we’re doing it.

The executive and the legislature are working together again.

We chose to sweat the details of governing, knowing that our constituents deserve nothing less.

And by moving in partnership, we’ve helped make life easier for the people we serve.

We have launched a frontal assault on child poverty that will lift a combined 160,000 children to the next rung on the economic ladder.

We returned stolen SNAP benefits to our most vulnerable, to thousands of Marylanders living paycheck-to-paycheck.

We have protected 5,000 Maryland children who were at risk of having their Medicaid coverage taken away.

We’ve worked with farmers and watermen to get healthy meals to food deserts.

We positioned Maryland to meet our climate goals and lead in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay.

Importantly, we got together, and we got some big stuff done.

But the truth is, these aren’t just OUR wins. They’re Maryland’s wins.

I know I talk a lot about partnership.

And I know, if the state received a nickel every time I said the word “partnership,” our budget problems would be solved.

But let’s be clear: Partnership isn’t the goal. Fulfilling the promise of Maryland is the goal. Partnership is how we’re going to get there.

For too long, we have watched while the executive picked fights with the legislature in the media — instead of showing real leadership and engagement in the State House.

So we’ve decided we’re going to move differently. And our state is going to be better because of it.

The challenges will be shared, the setbacks will be shared — but the victories, they’ll be shared too.

We can’t agree on everything, and we won’t. The truth is, it would be weird if we did.

But we can — and will — work together toward common goals.

And I want to talk about some of those shared goals today.

Tomorrow, we will unveil our plan to guide our work together.

It’s the first state plan in nearly a decade. It doesn’t just set the agenda for the next three months, it will chart the course for the next three years.

And our state plan is about more than just aspirational targets. The plan we’re going to lay out will contain specific, actionable, realistic, and measurable goals.

We’ve built these priorities by listening to the people who sent us here: Our constituents.

Last year, we went to your districts with you.

We toured an electric vehicle plant in Hagerstown, and we sat down with students in Glen Burnie to talk about gun violence.

We drove tractors with farmers on the Eastern Shore — by the way, some of those tractors are pretty bad. And we grieved together in Washington County after the tragic and unconscionable killing of Judge Andrew Wilkinson.

In our first year, we traveled with you to all 24 jurisdictions in the state of Maryland, and we listened to the people — together.

Our state plan is not a reflection of my aspirations, it’s not a reflection of our aspirations — it’s a reflection of their aspirations.

Today, I want to talk about what we heard.

First: We heard that the people of our state want us to make Maryland safer.

Public safety remains the top priority of our administration, and that will not change.

We will protect Marylanders where they live, where they work, where they worship, and where they go to school.

And hate has no home in the state of Maryland.

If you talk to people in our neighborhoods, they’ll tell you this isn’t a discussion that can happen in absolutes, that we need to move beyond the simplicity of how pundits talk about public safety — and move towards the complexity of how people experience public safety.

Because the truth is, the sound of a police siren does have a different pitch depending on the community you grew up in.

I felt handcuffs on my wrists when I was 11 years old; because our community was overpoliced, and we knew it.

But we still wanted to feel protected from violent crime.

People shouldn’t have to choose between feeling safe in their skin and feeling safe in their communities.

Yet these are the kinds of false choices that dominate the public safety debate.

Do you support law enforcement or do you want to build stronger neighborhoods?

Do you want to hold criminals accountable or do you want to focus on rehabilitation?

We’re told to pick a side — oftentimes by people who frankly do not have an interest in solving the problem.

And to break these false choices, we need everyone at the table.

Our administration will continue an all-of-the-above approach to public safety;

We will listen to law enforcement AND we will listen to the communities they protect;

We will listen to state’s attorneys AND we will listen to the public defenders;

We will listen to elected leaders AND we will listen to local advocates.

We’re up against new challenges, and we need to come up with new solutions.

Our state is facing a record of high vacancies in public safety jobs.

We need to address them — and we will, with the legislation we are seeking this year.

Marylanders are seeking justice for victims of crime — more accountability for people who break the law — and better rehabilitation for our children.

We must answer them — and we will, by working in partnership with the General Assembly.

Neighborhoods are calling for us to get these illegal guns off our streets and out of our neighborhoods.

We must hear them — and we have;

And I’m proud that Maryland will be the first state to answer President Biden’s call to launch a statewide Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Intervention, and we will deal with this issue.

So for the people who have said to us that we need to make Maryland a safer place for all, I say to you: We heard you, and we’re moving.

Second: We heard that people want us to make Maryland more affordable.

In 2022, Maryland was ranked as the seventh most expensive state to live in. We’re not proud of that. But I tell you what, that also tells a story.

It’s the story of the entrepreneur in Cumberland with a bold idea for a new business, but who doesn’t have the money to make rent this month — let alone start a company.

It’s the story of the mom in Leonardtown who works multiple jobs just to put food on the table.

This year, we will address two big items on the budget and on the minds of every family in the state: Housing and child care.

Most Marylanders in rental properties put a third of their monthly paycheck toward rent. Many can no longer afford to buy a home in the same neighborhood where they grew up.

Our state faces a problem of supply and demand. Prices go up because we do not have enough homes.

So building more will help to bring prices down.

I’ve introduced three housing bills to address that in this session.

We will create new financial tools to drive development and redevelopment in communities that need it most.

We will build new pathways to homeownership and wealth creation.

We will stand up for renters and confront the harsh truth that Maryland has the highest eviction filing rates in America.

We will cut government red tape that makes it harder to build quality housing…

… We must and we will protect our farmland and wild habitats. And we need to make sure that we’re also incentivizing housing where we should build.

Guys, this is about people’s lives and livelihoods. We need to make it easier for people to live here, to stay here, and to retire here.

And to that end, we’ve assembled the most comprehensive housing package that any Maryland administration has introduced in years;

And we will work together to get it done.

But making life easier for working families doesn’t end with housing.

Last month, the Comptroller released a study outlining the affordability problems Maryland families face every day.

Her report highlighted that as the cost of child care INCREASES, overall female employment DECREASES by 5%

And it’s why our proposed budget includes the single largest increase in funding for child care in Maryland history.

That investment is going to support 45,000 Maryland children this year.

And we can make these investments in child care and housing without raising taxes on Marylanders.

There are leaders in this chamber who have always fought for kitchen table issues.

I know because I get to partner with someone who used her life work for two and a half decades to make this real: Speaker Adrienne Jones.

Because of Speaker Jones, Maryland leads the nation in making prescription drugs more affordable;

Because of Speaker Jones, reproductive health care isn’t just a right for Maryland women and families — reproductive health care is more affordable too.

My friend: Thank you for your leadership.

So let the people who said we need to make Maryland more affordable, I want to be clear to them, too: We heard you, and we’re moving.

Third: We heard that people want us to make Maryland more competitive.

Last year, we got Maryland’s economy moving.

We secured federal investments in the Frederick Douglass Tunnel project.

We ensured that the new FBI headquarters will be located in Prince George’s County.

We have kept the Orioles in Baltimore for decades to come.

We have delivered over $1.4 billion to small and minority owned businesses through the Board of Public Works.

We provided more than 130,000 laptops to underserved households to narrow the digital divide. And we worked to accelerate the clean energy transition in every part of our state, not just some.

Now I’m grateful to President Biden, our federal delegation, and all of the state and local and municipal leaders who’ve been fighting for these projects since Day One.

Together, what we show is Maryland can win the moment; And together, moving forward, we will build on our progress.

We will invest in industries of the future — with funding for life sciences, and biotech, and data centers, and cyber.

We will cut red tape so Maryland is the friendliest state in the nation to start and build a business.

We will make reforms to the procurement process so the State of Maryland can be a true partner to entrepreneurs.

And we will engage in a robust debate on how Maryland funds transportation projects across the state.

We need to make it easier for people to travel from where they live to where opportunity lies.

But the State of Maryland has funded transportation in the same way for a decade. That’s got to change.

To win the next decade, we need to make Maryland the best state in the country for our kids. And understand who it is we’re supposed to be fighting for while we’re here.

When our young people get the tools they need to strengthen their minds and strengthen their hearts, they grow up to dream and lead.

That’s why we must build stronger pathways to success for our young people, no matter what road they choose.

We need to work with our friends in labor and our friends in the business community to grow apprenticeships and job training programs. And we need to keep investing in substance use services, mental health, and lead abatement, and making sure that we’re taking care of our children and families.

And we need to honor our pledge to make Maryland schools the best in this entire country. The time to support our students, our educators, and our public schools is now.

And that is why for the second year in a row, our administration has proposed record funding for K-12 schools and fully funded the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

The Blueprint is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We can seize that opportunity – but only if we do it in partnership.

We must bring together local electeds, school districts, legislators, and yes, the governor’s office too.

We’re going to get this right. We have to. But we have to be clear-eyed, honest, committed, and united to make this real.

The money’s important. But strategy, accountability, and partnership are imperative to get this done right.

We’ve got to spend smarter across all state programs — in a way that respects the taxpayer, in a way that follows data, in a way that responds to our communities.

Last month, we unveiled landmark legislation that is guided by that approach.

It’s called the ENOUGH Act. And it will continue our assault on child poverty.

Engaging Neighborhoods, Organizations, Unions, Governments and Households — that’s what ENOUGH stands for.

But it’s more than an acronym. It’s a governing philosophy.

We believe the people closest to the problems are closest to the solutions. If THEY offer the vision, WE can offer the support, and not the other way around.

The ENOUGH Act is about moving in partnership to create safe and thriving communities; It’s about involving our communities and moving in partnership to support healthy and economically secure families;

And it’s about moving in partnership to ensure access to high-quality education and health care for our children, who need and deserve it the most.

I’m proud to stand with leaders who have championed this kind of work for years — and have reached out to communities that have been left behind.

I’m talking about people like Chairwoman Vanessa Atterbeary; I’m talking about people like President Pro Tem Malcolm Augustine;

I’m talking about folks like members of the Legislative Black Caucus — and their fearless leader, Chair Jheanelle Wilkins.

Now it’s time to make work, wages, and wealth a reality for every Marylander.

Now is the time to drive economic growth in all of our communities, including our communities of color.

Now is the time to eliminate the racial wealth gap — and we are going to be unapologetic about it.

Let’s be clear: The racial wealth gap isn’t hurting one group. It’s hurting everybody.

So to the people who have said we need to make Maryland more competitive, I say to you: We’ve heard you, I hear you, and we’re moving.

Fourth and finally: We heard that people want us to continue to make Maryland the state that serves.

That means supporting those who run towards the danger instead of running away from it; That means standing with our state workers, who often go unsung and unheard;

And that means uplifting the families of those who put everything on the line to keep us safe. We will address each of these goals with policy and partnership.

This year, we’ve introduced legislation to ensure our firefighters receive the medical benefits they deserve.

We’ve worked with unions to deliver a raise to state employees for the second year in a row. And we are working together to ensure that our military families aren’t forgotten.

You know, when I deployed to Afghanistan, I thought military service and deployment were toughest on the soldiers. I was wrong. I realized it was toughest on our families.

Today, I’m thinking about two people who know that struggle: Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller and first lady Dawn Moore.

Our administration has declared 2024 the Year for Military Families in the State of Maryland.

And we will uplift Maryland servicemembers, military spouses, and caregivers by expanding opportunities for them to work and securing better benefits;

And the lieutenant governor, the first lady, and our secretary of Veterans Affairs — they will lead the change.

This year, we will also double the number of Marylanders in the Service Year Option.

Now I’m proud to be up here with the person who started this work before I decided to run for office in the first place: Senate President Bill Ferguson.

President Ferguson: Thank you for your leadership and for your vision.

Maryland Corps paved the way. And together, our state service programs are changing lives.

I’m proud that we have one of our founding Service Year members in the gallery.

His name is Tamir. I love that red shirt, man.

He was born and raised in Western Maryland.

And he is serving in the Asian American Center of Frederick to preserve and celebrate AAPI history.

Tamir: You are not only our present, you’re our future. And thank you for making Maryland the best place to change the world.

So to the people who said we need to continue making Maryland the state that serves: We hear you, and we’re moving.

These are the four pillars of our success this year: We will make Maryland safer.

We will make Maryland more affordable.

We will make Maryland more competitive.

And we will continue to make Maryland the state that serves. And to get there, we need the partnership of our legislators;

We need the partnership of our constitutional officers; We need the partnership of our county executives and local electeds;

We need the partnership of our union leaders, community stakeholders, advocates, philanthropies, and households, and neighborhoods, and businesses and — y’all get the theme, right?

We need the partnership of people who serve not just as our inspirations, but also as our guides… …

We need the partnership of people like Michelle Taylor.

Michelle works in a community health center that treats Marylanders who’ve been turned away by other providers:

Marylanders who are living paycheck-to-paycheck;

Marylanders in the LGBTQIA+ community;

Marylanders without health insurance.

She’s the mother of a beautiful daughter named Diamonique — and both of them are with us today.

Could you please stand and be recognized?

We need the partnership of people like Cleoda Walker.

Miss Cleo is a village elder of Cherry Hill.

Miss Cleo sees the promise in every child — and her mission in life is to steer kids, youth, and adults away from violence and toward opportunity.

She believes in the power of partnerships and she believes in the power of prevention — and her legacy will endure in the future leaders she has mentored, guided, and inspired.

She’s 82 years young, and she is with us today.

Miss Cleo, we appreciate you so much.

And we need the partnership of people like Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne.

Dr. Clayborne is a mom of two and an adjunct professor at the amazing University of Maryland.

She loves teaching medicine.

But she always wanted to be an entrepreneur as well. As a woman of color, she struggled to find capital to get her idea off the ground, but just like a good Term, Dr. Clayborne does not give up.

She was six months pregnant at the height of COVID — but STILL went to work on the front lines at Prince George’s Hospital Center.

Eventually, she raised enough money to start her business, and today, she is the Founder and CEO of her own medical device company that’s focused on helping children and families;

And it’s located right here in the state of Maryland.

Gd bless you, Doc, and thank you.

Michelle, Miss Cleo, and Dr. Clayborne remind all of us that this work will take all of us.

In First Corinthians, Paul the Apostle writes about love.

He told that:

“Love is patient and kind…

Love keeps no record of being wrong…

It does not rejoice about injustice;

But rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”

Well, I think partnership the exact same way.

Partnership doesn’t keep score.

Partnership has no ego.

And partnership isn’t partisan.

Partnership is what happened when we all learned about Charlotte Hall.

I know everyone in this chamber — regardless of party — was enraged and disturbed when we learned about the level of disregard and neglect that was shown to our patriots.

Republicans like Jack Bailey worked with Democrats like Brian Crosby — worked together to respond.

Our administration, led by Secretary Tony Woods — a combat veteran himself — coordinated with local and state and national leaders to get to work.

Three months ago, I visited Charlotte Hall. And I heard from veterans about how much that teamwork mattered.

And one of them said something I won’t forget:

“We made ‘thank you for your service’ actually mean something…”

… He was talking about all of us.

Partnership is what we saw and what we did when a storm hit Westminster in August.

The rain and the wind knocked down 30 utility poles. Thirty-three adults and 14 children were trapped in their cars for hours under live wires.

If one of them got out of their car, it could have been catastrophic.

But we worked with local leadership across the political spectrum;

We worked with law enforcement;

And we worked with the Department of Emergency Management to get the situation under control.

I visited Westminster the next morning. The lieutenant governor and I, we walked through damage and we walked through debris. And I stood there relieved knowing that all 47 Marylanders got home safe that night.

Guys, when things are hard, partnership only becomes more important.

We need to stand united — with a clear commitment of doing the work, with a clear understanding that the months and years ahead, they will be hard…

… But if there’s one thing the last 12 months have taught me, it’s that Marylanders do hard things — and they want us to accomplish hard things together.

This will be Maryland’s decade.

Not because we say so, but because we make it so — together.

Thank you, God bless this great state, and let’s make sure leave no one behind.