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Across the country today, schools and school nutrition personnel are celebrating National School Breakfast Week, an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of school breakfast and its role in preparing our students to learn each morning. In Maryland, while we have made record investments in our public schools and worked to ensure that our educators are prepared to teach students to succeed in a 21st Century economic climate, this week also serves as an important reminder that all of those efforts are for nothing if we are unable to meet one of a child’s most basic needs: proper nutrition.
When the O’Malley-Brown Administration launched the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger in Maryland in 2008, we did so because we believed that it was within our capacity and our compassion as Marylanders to ensure that no child goes hungry in this state. Recognizing that hunger can manifest itself in our youngest citizens in so many different ways, including in our classrooms, we have implemented a variety of strategies to increase school breakfast participation in an effort to ensure that children who may arrive at school without eating breakfast at home are still equipped to succeed.
Schools throughout Maryland have worked with us to introduce new methods of serving breakfast, allowing students to eat together in the classroom or stop by a central kiosk to pick up a breakfast on the way to first period. With a diverse group of partners, from non-profits to members of the private sector, we have come together to ensure more than 63,000 additional children are now receiving a free or reduced-price breakfast at school each morning, an increase of 74 percent.
Now, other states are beginning to take notice, looking to Maryland as a leader in the effort to address childhood hunger. The state-funded Maryland Meals for Achievement program has come to serve as a national model for states seeking to close the participation gap in the School Breakfast Program, and according to the Food Research and Action Center, Maryland’s growth rate in school breakfast participation has been amongst the top five states in the country the last two years, one of only two states to achieve that feat.
The March issue of Governing magazine recognizes Maryland’s accomplishments in the work to connect children with nutrition resources, but perhaps more importantly, our willingness to set ending childhood hunger as a policy goal and to hold ourselves accountable to that goal through StateStat. It is due to this consistent evaluation of our efforts that we can tell you not only how far we have come, but also helps us identify the work we have left to do.
In the words of Frederick Douglass, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Here in Maryland, we have made a commitment to ensuring every child is strong and free from the effects of hunger. Together we can continue to lead the way in addressing issues that truly matter.
To find out more about our efforts to end childhood hunger in Maryland, visit nokidhungrymd.org.
The Chesapeake Bay is not only an essential natural resource for Maryland, but also for the United States. It is a recognized national treasure. Here in our great State, we’ve taken on this moral imperative by making a commitment to restore the Bay and ensure that it’s an economically and ecologically viable resource for our children and our grandchildren. We have made these commitments in partnership with the other jurisdictions of the Bay’s watershed.
Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and the federal government are, together, committed to restoring and protecting our nation’s largest estuary.
Despite the pressures that come with population growth and the challenges of economic crises, we have made great progress in conserving thousands of acres of land, reducing levels of harmful nutrient pollution, providing farmers with millions of dollars to implement water quality protection practices. But we still have more work to do.
Now, our years of hard work and partnership efforts are being challenged and threatened by other states objecting to what we have done and plan to do to preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
Recently, the Attorneys General of twenty-one states sued to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from working with Maryland and the other Bay watershed states to restore the Chesapeake Bay. While Maryland certainly wouldn’t consider fighting Florida’s efforts to restore the Everglades or Utah’s efforts to protect the Great Salt Lake, they seem more than willing to challenge our efforts to restore the Chesapeake.
Quite frankly, we do not appreciate their trespassing on our turf.
We are part of the most ambitious, scientifically-driven ecosystem clean-up effort in the nation if not the world. We are working across a watershed of 64,000 square miles to stop polluted runoff from extinguishing our fisheries, suffocating our oysters, and making our waters unswimmable. With wastewater treatment plants incorporating state of the art technology, local governments controlling stormwater runoff, citizens limiting fertilizer applications on their lawns, and farmers planting cover crops, we are taking action to restore the Chesapeake.
Other ecosystem restoration efforts can learn a lot from Maryland’s work on the Chesapeake Bay. We know that there is a vital link between how we use our land and the condition of our waters. We cannot become more prosperous if we are not more mindful of the other living systems upon which our prosperity depends.
What good is it for us to spur innovation or make the next major biotechnology discovery if we no longer have a Chesapeake Bay or a Red River? A Lake Michigan or a Missouri River? If we can’t swim or fish in our waters? If we no longer have clean air to breathe? If sea-level rise destroys that which we have fought to preserve?
The urgent transformation of the Chesapeake Bay is not just about Maryland or even just the United States. It’s about all of us. We need to move from global economies of depletion to local economies of regeneration.
The leaders of these twenty-one states who want to stop the work of Maryland, its sister states, the District of Columbia, and EPA on restoring the Chesapeake Bay could better spend their time preserving the waters in their own backyards. Stop aiding and abetting the polluters who want to prevent us from bringing back the Bay to the glory that we know it offers our citizens. Rather than standing in our way, we encourage them to join us in doing more, together, for the future of our children and for our planet.
Please join the tens of thousands of Marylanders who have voiced their support of the EPA and Bay states efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay by clicking here.
Maryland’s Nation-Leading Progress
Yesterday, Governor O’Malley delivered his eighth State of the State address, focused on our work as a State over the last seven years to be fiscally-responsible, strengthen and grow our middle class and create jobs for more Maryland families.
Throughout the speech, the Governor spoke about a central pillar to our progress as a State: accountability. He pointed out that the test of any policy, action, or expenditure has been whether or not it is actually working to produce the intended results.
We see the results of that test in the presence of a Maryland family, an Eastern Shore manufacturer, and a community college president, all of whom have benefited from strategic policy actions established just last year: The Veteran’s Full Employment Act and the EARN Maryland Program.
Better Choices for Families
Sandra Rolph, an active-duty Army nurse, came to Maryland with her husband, Rob and daughter, Megan, from North Carolina, where she was previously stationed. They chose Maryland for the top-rated schools, but Rob faced challenges using his master electrician’s license in their new home state. Their situation was further complicated by their daughter’s fight against Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body.
The Veteran’s Full Employment Act ensures that we do right by veterans who sacrificed so much for us overseas, by removing the bureaucratic barriers to full employment here at home. Thanks to the VFEA, which covers veterans and their spouses, Rob secured his Master Electrician License in just two days. The license enabled Rob to have a schedule flexible enough for him to take Megan to critical doctors appointments during the day. Today, Megan is enjoying her junior year in Montgomery County Public Schools and their family is thriving.
The Right to EARN
In a presentation on income disparities yesterday, Mark Zandi, a nationally-recognized voice in economics, cited strategic partnerships and skills training as essential tools to growing local economies and addressing income disparities. On the Eastern Shore, we’re taking charge of jobs training programs by directly connecting employers, community colleges and worker advocate groups in partnership. The EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) program equips students at community colleges such as Chesapeake College with training tailored to the needs of manufacturers like Cambridge International. Strategic collaborations like EARN empower Marylanders with the skills they need to find family-sustaining jobs in our new economy.
Our Work Continues
While we’ve made tremendous progress, there’s still more work to be done to honor the dignity of Maryland families. That work continues in our mission to raise the minimum wage; together, we can forge consensus and continue to grow Maryland’s economy from the middle out.
Today I join the people of Maryland, and the entire nation, in celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Dr. King’s enduring legacy of fighting for civil rights, workers’ rights, and economic justice was written in far too short a time, but we strive to carry on his memory and work every day here in the State of Maryland.
In the speech that changed the course of our history, Dr. King spoke of a nation where many lived “on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
Too many of our people are still stranded on that island. In recent decades, we’ve seen people work harder and harder, only to fall further and further behind — while, at the same time, incomes in the top 1 percent have skyrocketed.
The way we grow our country and the way we grow our economy is to grow our middle class.
If workers don’t have money, businesses won’t have customers. Better pay for workers means more consumer demand. More consumer demand means more customers for businesses. And more customers for our businesses mean a better and stronger economy.
We have an opportunity here in Maryland to do something that makes a difference. It makes a difference in putting food on the table. It makes a difference for kids and their moms and dads to be able to put a roof over their heads.
This year, we are taking an important step to grow our middle class and reward hard work: passing a $10.10 minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Twenty-one states have minimum wages higher than Maryland’s—while we have the highest median income in the country, and one of the most highly educated workforces.
This effort is important to protecting the dignity of hard-working Marylanders who are more productive than they’ve ever been, yet are falling further behind. And it’s important to a strong economy. A thriving middle class isn’t a consequence of growth…it’s the source of growth.
With his life and his words, Dr. King called us to action. The work he set in motion is not finished. The dream is not yet realized.
But we are united in our belief in the dignity of work, the dignity of home, and the dignity of every individual. We have a shared belief that each of us can make a difference and that all of us must try. We believe that our children deserve a future of more opportunity, not less.
At the heart of our State’s history and economy is the Chesapeake Bay. For the last seven years we have made the better choices to restore the health of this natural jewel—the largest estuary in the world.
We have improved the health of the rivers and streams that run into the Bay, planted a record 415,000 acres of cover crops, preserved more than 140,000 acres of open space and agricultural land, and built the most productive oyster hatchery in the world.
As a result of our efforts, the iconic Maryland blue crab is coming back. And our native oysters—an irreplaceable part of a health Bay ecosystem—are surviving at rates not seen in 27 years.
Our efforts are undermined when poachers loot our waters. That’s why the role of the Natural Resources Police is so vital.
On Wednesday, our Natural Resources Police stopped a tractor-trailer headed to a Virginia processing plant with 188 bushels of oysters—most of them undersized and illegal. This is one of the largest oyster poaching cases in recent years, and illustrates the threat that our fisheries, and our investments, face.
Fifty bushels of undersized oysters were returned to an Eastern Shore sanctuary where they will grow to legal size.
The Administration’s 2010 Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan contains a robust enforcement component to protect the resource, habitat and sanctuaries. Thanks to new tools like the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network, officers are able to track vessels on the Bay. This new system of radar units and cameras has already been used to make several oyster poaching cases this season.
All those who live and work near the Chesapeake owe thanks to our Natural Resources Police for protecting and preserving the waters we love.
For more information on this week’s incident, click here.
Earlier today, I joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell and Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Tommy Beaudreau at the Maritime Applied Physics Corporation in Baltimore to talk about next steps in our continuing effort to spur wind energy development in Maryland.
Our federal partners are proposing to lease approximately 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland for commercial wind energy development. Maryland’s offshore wind investment will create 850 construction and manufacturing jobs, plus 160 permanent supply and operations jobs after the site is completed. The site will generate $1.3 billion in total economic impact, and is expected to support the generation of up to 1,000 megawatts.
Today’s announcement gives Maryland momentum to continue to increase our renewable energy progress, create jobs, and encourage economic development. By working together, we can strengthen our in-state renewable energy generation, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce public health costs.
Since taking office, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has increased our renewable energy usage by 40 percent. Our workforce has more green jobs per capita than any state in the Mid-Atlantic region – the 6th highest concentration in the nation.
This week we celebrate Computer Science Education Week throughout the State of Maryland, and we encourage all of our citizens to participate in the Week’s activities. We also encourage our education stakeholders and their partners to expand access to meaningful professional development for teachers, as well as to expose all students to the concepts of computer science while providing pathways to advanced learning.
As one of the nation’s leaders of the technology industry, Maryland is in a strong position to capitalize on our recent accomplishments. We are making better choices to get better results: we’ve made record investments in our schools; we are the first state in the nation to set specific science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education standards; and, we have substantially expanded access to Career and Technical Education in Maryland’s public schools.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Maryland as the number one state for entrepreneurship and innovation and one of the top two states for employment in STEM fields. Over the past decade, we have created more STEM jobs than all but five states. Currently, we have 140,000 employees in the technology industry, making an average salary of $82,000. These attractive, high-demand positions are going to increase in number at a rapid rate:
- By 2020, the number of cybersecurity jobs in Maryland is projected to increase by nearly 25 percent, to more than 13,000 jobs;
- By 2020, the number of computer and information technology jobs in Maryland is projected to increase by more than 22 percent, to nearly 77,000 jobs;
- And, Maryland is projected to generate an additional 7,695 job openings in computer science and information technology every year between now and 2020.
This type of growth presents incredible opportunity for our children to succeed in the 21st century marketplace. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we expand opportunity so our children have the critical skills necessary to achieve their dreams. Computer Science Education Week is just one of the ways we’re making sure that our students are the best prepared in America. From being number one in the nation in Advanced Placement success, to being the first state in the nation to set specific STEM education standards, to launching Skills2Compete, we’re making better choices and getting the right results for Maryland families. This week, take the opportunity to learn a new computer skill and join us in working to make Maryland a great place to live and learn.
President Barack Obama recently used his weekly radio address to talk about opportunities to strengthen our national economy while reducing our carbon footprint. Clean energy is about more than reducing our environmental impact. It means jobs, economic revitalization and innovating for our future.
These priorities took center stage as members of a Maryland delegation signed an agreement to cooperate on offshore wind energy with the Government of Denmark earlier this month. Denmark is a recognized world leader in offshore wind energy innovation and deployment, and this agreement will help leverage their expertise as we implement Maryland’s Offshore Wind Energy Act. Additionally, the delegation of legislators, Maryland businesses, and agency heads, including Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration, had the chance to engage with their Danish counterparts and develop a framework to partner for the next year and a half, sharing information and building business connections. During the visit, the delegation also toured some of the impressive infrastructure and manufacturing clusters supporting the Danish clean energy economy.
Building on those efforts, Maryland’s energy staff attended the European Wind Energy Association Offshore 2013 conference in Frankfurt, Germany last week. This widely attended bi-annual conference provided an excellent platform to showcase the progress we’ve made as a state, in an epicenter of global innovation. While there, MEA staff had the opportunity to meet with industry experts and obtain the critical technical and logistical knowledge to ensure that the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act delivers on its promise for smart, clean energy investment.
As the 21st century green economy continues to evolve, we’re doing everything we can to grow the ranks of Maryland’s middle class by building strong connections with industry leaders both overseas and here at home. Maryland will come out on top by harnessing the potential of offshore wind, expanding opportunity for local businesses, and creating family-supporting jobs for Maryland families.
“And while our carbon emissions have been dropping, our economy has been growing. Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months. It proves that the old argument that we can’t strengthen the economy and be good stewards of our planet at the same time is a false choice. We can do both. And we have to do both.” – President Obama
Caption – Abigail Ross Hopper, Esq. Maryland Energy Administration Director and Energy Advisor to the Governor signs the cooperation agreement with Martin Lidegaard, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Building.
Please join us at our Holiday Open House *
Saturday, December 14, from 1:00 to 4:00
At Government House, Annapolis MD
Annapolis Parking and Shuttle Service from Naval Stadium Lot (Rowe Blvd. and Taylor Ave.)
* Please check this page in the event of postponement or cancellation due to weather.
Happy Holidays! This season is a time to be thankful for our blessings and give back to the community that connects us. This winter, please share what you can – food, money, or your time – with those who are less fortunate; even small acts of kindness have the ability to lift up our neighbors and provide hope to one another. Let’s also not forget about the men and women who sacrifice so much, including time spent away from their families during this holiday season, to serve and defend our nation.
Together, we have made remarkable progress over this past year, and we remain committed to expanding opportunities and protecting Maryland’s middle-class families. As our children rejoice in the spirit of the season, let’s remember the choices that we make today will determine what legacy we leave for them.
Enjoy the company of your neighbors and friends, and take pride in all you have done to move our State forward. Katie and I look forward to seeing you and your family at Government House this year. On behalf of my family and Lt. Governor Brown’s family, we wish you a joyous holiday season.
Thank you for making Maryland the best place to live.
Martin O’Malley, Governor
Supporting Maryland’s more than 440,000 veterans, and reducing unemployment within this invaluable community, is one of our highest priorities as a state. After facing so many barriers to protect us in the U.S. and abroad, these individuals should never come home and face barriers to supporting themselves and their families.
That’s why the Veteran’s Full Employment Act is so important. It allows us to do right by our veterans and their families by making sure we remove barriers to employment here at home.
Today, I met with members of our veteran community—veterans, employers, and representatives of the agencies and organizations that support our servicemen and women–to update them on our progress implementing VFEA. Cabinet heads from across state government talked about what we’re doing to overcome barriers to employment in Maryland, for both veterans and military families. These Marylanders all have skills, experience, and training in demand by Maryland employers. By breaking down these barriers, we are not only doing right by our veterans, but we are also making our economy stronger by tapping into these skills. Every single person—and every person’s talent—is needed in order to create jobs and expand opportunity.
I also shared with the group the new Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs website, which is designed to be a streamlined source of information for veterans and their families in Maryland. This new site will allow our veterans to find all the information they need about jobs, benefits, health care, financial assistance, and every resource Maryland has to offer, in one convenient place.
While the veteran unemployment rate–in Maryland and around the country–remains slightly lower than the overall unemployment rate, we have an obligation to ensure that all of our Maryland veterans have employment opportunities when they return home from service. The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs continues to work, in partnership with its sister agencies, toward reaching our goal to fully employ veterans in Maryland by 2015:
- MDVA maintains an email distribution list of almost 15,000 residents and Veterans in Maryland and through collaborations with local employers, job openings are being shared via email with Veterans across the State;
- Over the last five years, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has provided $5.1 million in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Scholarship Program to help veterans attain their educational goals and enhance their ability to gain employment;
- Since FY10, through Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development, we’ve provided $775,000 in funding for the Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business No-Interest Loan Program; and,
- Our Vet Stat- quarterly meetings tracks our efforts and holds agencies accountable for accomplishing these goals;
As we move forward as a State, we’re doing everything we can to coordinate services, problem-solve, and communicate with one another to better serve Maryland’s veterans.