OPINION: Start of 2009 Legislative Session

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

Today, Lt. Governor Brown and I joined our partners in Maryland's General Assembly to officially mark the beginning of the 426th Legislative Session. During these past two years, we've been able to come together as One Maryland to make substantial progress for our shared priorities – and now, even as our nation faces the most serious national economic crisis in a generation, we must continue to move forward and protect the progress we have made.

Just a few days ago, Education Week affirmed in its national rankings that we have the best public school system in America. Our rate of job growth in this tough economy is better than all but nine other States. And together, as One Maryland, we've established our State as a national leader in protecting our environment and securing a sustainable energy future.

In times such as these, it's more important than ever to protect and strengthen our priorities; priorities which remain the same through good times and bad:

-- To strengthen and grow the ranks of our upwardly mobile middle class and family owned businesses and farms;

-- To improve public safety and public education in every part of our State;

-- To expand opportunity to more Marylanders rather than fewer, including the opportunity to learn, to earn, to enjoy the health of the people and the environment we love.

Our challenge for this session is to protect the progress we've made. But our financial circumstances also offer a unique opportunity to stand up for the hard-working families of our State who have shown such remarkable resiliency during these difficult times – families who are struggling every day to put food on the table and make ends meet.

Though we will face many difficult challenges in the coming months, our agenda for this year's session involves fighting to protect the progress we have made thus far. By working together in the spirit of bipartisanship, we will continue to protect our shared priorities. I look forward to working with all of you as we continue to work to find a way forward for our families and for our shared future.

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