Thank you Mayor Bennett. Congratulations on a successful term at the helm of MML. Where is Mayor "J." Davis? Mayor, congratulations on your election as MML's new president.
This is the sixth year I've had the opportunity to join you here and congratulate your new officers. Each year, without fail, I look around this room and find myself feeling so grateful that I have the opportunity to serve with all of you. I wouldn't trade places with any other governor in America.
For all the challenges we face, just think of what our colleagues in others states would do to be #1 in education, #1 in innovation, and #1 in R&D. Think of what other states would trade to be in the Top 5 for economic performance, in the Top 2 for science and technology, and in the Top 3 in Kaufman's New Economy index. How many other states would like to be able to say they have the third lowest tax burden as a share of income? Or that despite this relatively low tax burden, their people have chosen to hold tuition increases to the lowest percentage in America?
What would other states trade to have a natural treasure like the Chesapeake Bay, with populations of Blue Crabs and Oysters that are rebounding thanks to your choices?
How many other states would like to be able to say that together with the hardworking men and women of law enforcement, they've been able to come together and drive violent crime and homicide down to three decade lows?
Which of the 42 other states wouldn't trade places with the 8 of us which continue to defend our Triple A Bond ratings?
How many others states would like to be able to say that they've recovered 70% of the jobs lost during the Bush recession at a time when the nation as a whole has recovered 43%? What would other states give to be able to say that 30,800 more of their moms, dads, sons, and daughters are working today than a year before, to have created more jobs over the last 12 months than during any corresponding period since the onset of the Bush recession?
How many other states would like to be able to say that their businesses started 2012 with the best quarter of new job creation since 1999?
Which of your colleagues in other states wouldn't want Maryland's world class workforce, powered by the resiliency, ingenuity, skills and education of your neighbors. Who wouldn't want to have a community of farmers who regularly set records in the numbers of cover crops they plant? Which state wouldn't want 61 federal facilities or world class assets like the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, Bowie State, and Maryland's great community colleges?
In Maryland we are blessed to represent a great people. A people who understand that progress is a choice. Job creation is a choice. Expanding opportunity, improving public education, protecting the public's safety, restoring the Bay, growing our economy, making college more affordable to more families, investing in innovation, rebuilding Maryland's roads, bridges, tunnels, school buildings, and waste water infrastructure, networking our State with 21st century broadband, restoring Maryland's Main Streets, all these things are choices.
There is no progress without jobs -- and there is no job creation without choices. Together, we've chosen to move forward with a balanced approach of record spending cuts, modern investment, regulatory reform, and yes -- balanced revenues in the State where we pay the 9th lowest sales tax in America.
Tonight I want to talk with you about two choices: the choice to invest, and the choice not to invest.
Let's start with the choice not to invest -- specifically the choice not to invest adequately in our roads, bridges, tunnels and other transportation infrastructure.
Because while we have chosen to invest in education -- and while we have chosen to invest in innovation -- we have not yet found the necessary consensus to invest adequately in transportation -- and you feel it every day in your cities and towns.
I want to be able to help you by restoring HUR investments -- and to do that, I need your help working with our colleagues in the General Assembly on transportation revenues.
Whether we choose to move forward by restoring HURs, whether we choose to create thousands of new jobs, or whether we choose to content ourselves with having the longest average daily commute in America, these are choices we can only make together.
As you know better than most, inaction has a cost. It is the cost of being unable to do what we should on HURs. It is the cost of time lost sitting in traffic when we should be at home with our families. It is the cost of gasoline and money lost idling in bumper to bumper beltway traffic that looks a lot more like a parking lot than it does like a highway. It is the cost of lost productivity at work,
It is the cost of 4,600 construction jobs we lost last month alone.
This year, even though we were unable to reach a consensus on needed, additional revenues, we nonetheless chose through our capital budget to support an estimated 52,000 jobs building and rebuilding modern schools, modern roads, modern transit, and modern clean water infrastructure. Just think of what we can do in terms of job creation and opportunity if we're able to come together on a transportation revenue package!
Choosing to Invest in our Cities & Towns
To create jobs, a modern economy requires modern investments; and some of these investments are public investments -- investments by all of us, for the benefit of all of us. That's not a Democratic or a Republican idea; it's an economic and historic truth. It is an American truth. It was true for our parents, it was true for our grandparents, and it is the truth that has built our country.
We see the proof in cities and towns across Maryland,
We see what it means to a community when we choose to invest through Safe Streets to help Mayor Ireton and law enforcement drive down violent crime in Salisbury nearly 47%, or when we invest to help Mayor Cohen and law enforcement drive down violent crime nearly 61% in Annapolis.
We see the benefits of modern investment when we team with Mayor Grimm and entrepreneur Betsy Delozier ("Duh-LOW-Jur") to rehab an abandoned building for reuse as a solar-powered, neighborhood Laundromat in Cumberland.
Or when we team with Mayor Tartaro and entrepreneurs Julie Paez ("PIE-ehz") and Penney Jones-Napier to help Big Bad Woof expand to a second location in Hyattsville -- and create 12 new jobs! For those of you unfamiliar with Big Bad Woof, they sell eco-friendly pet supplies, fair trade items and merchandise sourced from American companies. They are also the first "benefit corporation" recognized under our new law. What's a benefit corporation? It's a private enterprise in service of the public good.
We see what modern investments mean for a modern economy in the 110 jobs we supported during the rehabilitation of Union Mill in Baltimore City and in the 253 permanent jobs we're supporting -- along with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake -- through a great project that offers affordable housing to teachers and 30,000 square feet of affordable office space for non-profits. These 253 jobs are some of the 15,000 jobs we're supporting together, through the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit.
We see a return on our modern investments in as many as 50 advanced manufacturing jobs we're helping Mayor Morrison and Vorbeck create in Pokomoke City.
And in the 60 Advanced Manufacturing jobs we're helping Mayor Dan Murphy and Evolve Composites create in Hancock. After the devastating loss of three plants in Hancock over the past two decades, Mayor Murphy teamed with Washington County and your state government to rehab the former Fleetwood Travel Trailers plant and attract Evolve Composites, company which manufacturers 100% recyclable utility pads for HVAC units, pool pumps, and home use.
Finally, we get a return on our modern investments with every oyster served at Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar in Cambridge -- which just happens to be on the way home for many of us from Ocean City -- just sayin.' In partnership with owner Amanda Bramble and Mayor Vickie Jackson-Staley, we used Be SMART Businesses Financing to help them expand to a larger space, upgrade to more energy efficient equipment, and, drum roll please, create and save 30 jobs!
There are stories like these in every part of our State. Stories which show us what we're able to accomplish together when we to choose to invest in the people of our State. On the other hand, there are plenty of stories which illustrate what happens when we don't. And there is plenty of time to retell them, while we're stuck in America's worst traffic congestion.
Our parents and grandparents didn't give us a car, they gave us a country. It's not a thing to be traded in when the carburetor gets old or its engine starts to knock. She is something to be treasured, loved, strengthened, and built up. It's not about what other countries are doing to us, it's about what we can and must do for ourselves.
And so, as we search for the good intentions of our neighbors, for common ground, and for the way forward, perhaps we should ask one another -- without any anger, meanness, or fear -- how much less do we think would be good for our State? How much less education would be good for our economy? How much less public safety? How many fewer college degrees would be good for our global competitiveness? How much less research and development would be good for Maryland's Innovation Economy? How many hungry kids can we no longer afford to feed
Progress is a choice. We can either make the tough choices necessary to invest in Maryland's future, or we can be the first generation of Marylanders to give our children a lesser quality of life with fewer opportunities. The choice is ours.