Governor Martin O'Malley today joined Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, and Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown to sign legislation to protect public education and improve Marylanders' quality of life. The Governor signed into law the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) bill and the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012.
"Today, we're here to focus on a number of areas where we were able to make significant progress for job creation, education and our quality of life," said Governor O'Malley. "Together, we are strengthening our commitment to public education because to move forward, we must create jobs and expand opportunity -- and education is the best tool we have. Progress is a choice, job creation is a choice, better schools are a choice; and in our One Maryland we should choose to move forward together."
With a balanced approach to create jobs, improve public education, and protect Marylanders' quality of life, the Administration proposed $800 million in cuts to bring the six-year total to $7.5 billion- the largest amount cut in Maryland's history. These cuts, balanced with modern investments, would create jobs and move Maryland forward. The Administration's capital budget will create, support and leverage approximately 50,000 jobs building and re-building modern schools, modern roads, modern transit, and modern clean water infrastructure.
The legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed today works to reform the MOE system to protect investments in public education.
Since taking office, the O'Malley-Brown Administration has continued its commitment to quality public education, making strategic and record investments in K-12 education even in tough times. This year's $373 million investment in school construction dollars to build, renovate and "green" Maryland's schools brings the Administration's six-year total to $2 billion and supports an estimated 11,000 jobs for Maryland families. For four years in a row, Maryland's public schools have been certified as number-one in the nation by Education Week magazine. Maryland has also led the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors that had taken and passed an AP exam according to the College Board, now for four years in a row. The Administration also froze tuition at public colleges and universities for four consecutive years, and has held tuition increases to just three percent, making the dream of a college education more affordable for more families. The Administration has set a strategic goal to Improve Student Achievement and School, College, and Career Readiness in Maryland by 25 percent by the end of 2015.
Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Brown, the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012 will create a series of geographically based Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) in underserved communities impacted by health disparities. Within a designated zone, incentives would be provided to eligible primary care practitioners and community-based organizations or local health departments to expand and improve access to care, improve health, and reduce disparities.
"With the signing of our Health Improvement and Disparities Reductions Act, Maryland is once again leading the way by putting into place an innovative approach for improving health in our most vulnerable communities," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Our Health Enterprise Zones program will help saturate underserved communities with primary care providers and health care services in order to ensure that every Marylander, of every race, ethnicity and nationality, in every part of our State, has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life."
Lt. Governor Brown leads the O'Malley-Brown Administration's efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of health care for all Marylanders. Under the leadership of Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have expanded health coverage to over 310,000 Marylanders (half of them children) and put the State in position to maximize the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).