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OCEAN CITY, Md. (August 18, 2007) – Governor Martin O’Malley today delivered the Keynote Address at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City. Speaking to hundreds of local elected officials and policymakers, O’Malley outlined his plans to work with local jurisdictions to confront state and local budget challenges, and outlined three broad themes to move Maryland forward: workforce creation, sustainability, and security integration.
“As a state, together, we have tremendous opportunities in the challenging times ahead of us,” said Governor O’Malley. “And we can make those opportunities ours by advancing simultaneously along three fronts – workforce creation, sustainability, and security integration – greatness lies in our ability to advance along these fronts as One Maryland.”
During his remarks, Governor O’Malley stressed the need for the state to protect the most valuable asset of the state – the talent, ingenuity and innovation of the workforce of Maryland.
“Our ability to compete in this global economy is challenged by a troubling dichotomy. Although Maryland leads the nation in advance degrees, 20 percent of our adult workers are not functionally literate. And although Maryland is first in the nation with the number of persons over 25 with a bachelors degree, 613,000 Maryland adults do not possess a high school diploma,” Governor O’Malley said. “Our workers need skills and our employers need a skilled workforce. As we realign our education system to meet this demand, we will create a stronger workforce.”
"The Workforce" is the new political mantra uttered across the state by polticians ranging from county officials to Rep. Steny Hoyer to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. The need for skilled workers in Maryland has increased greatly as high technology, military-related jobs continue to be created in Maryland largely due to BRAC relocations and increased military spending. Anciliary jobs, such as teachers, are also in great demand.
Governor O’Malley also addressed the need for the State to build a sustainable Maryland, one that meets current needs without compromising the opportunities of future generations. He also discussed the importance of security integration, the protection of Maryland’s families and communities through seamless coordination and consistent information-sharing.
“Interoperability is a fundamental requirement for security integration, and we will make it a reality,” Governor O’Malley said.
Governor O’Malley asked representatives from MACo for their help and support in solving the state’s structural deficit and discussed the need to work together with Maryland’s towns and counties in an open, honest way, to solve the structural deficit.
“This upcoming year, we will submit a budget that is balanced in reality and not just on paper. The days of hidden deficit spending are over,” Governor O’Malley said. “The hard truth is that we can only balance the budget by raising revenue and reducing our rate of spending. These are never popular choices. But our goal is not passing a popularity contest, our goal is a stronger Maryland for the working people of Maryland, a stronger, healthier, safer Maryland for the next generation of Maryland.”
The Governor also addressed funding for the state's transportation infrastructure and announced that he would introduce a transportation funding bill during the next legislative session. O'Malley asked MACo representatives for their help and support in addressing the state's transportation infrastructure. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, the State faces $40 billion in unmet transportation needs.
“We will not be the generation that allowed its infrastructure to become weak because our political will was not strong,” Governor O’Malley said. “Our roads and bridges will not wait until the right political timing, the ideal gas price, or the best fiscal environment. We need action, and we need it now.”