Mountain Maryland PACE 2007 Legislative Breakfast
January 26, 2007
Thank you all for having me here this morning. I hope every one had a great time last night.
Senator, thank you for the introduction and thank you for being such a strong voice for the people of Mountain Maryland.
I also want to congratulate you on your move to the Senate.
I also want to thank all of our great delegation from District 1 – Kevin Kelly, LeRoy Myers, Wendell Beitzel… and everyone from Mountain Maryland – David Moe, Robert Smith, Al Feldstein – who made this very important day possible.
To our business leaders, thank you for choosing to do business in our State and for choosing to invest in our communities.
Someone once said, “Wherever you see a business, someone once made a courageous decision.” So thank you for your courage and for your advocacy.
Part of me wishes we could be meeting in Cumberland or Oakland. I think the weight of the world just lets go once you cross the Cumberland Gap.
And, I learned – over the course of the campaign – that Cumberland is the place to be on Fridays after Five. But, I want to thank you for your willingness to come here and raise very important issues.
I really look forward to working with all of you as we take on some of the very tough challenges facing our State.
We have a great team. I'd like to point out Josh White, our Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is also here this morning. Please know you can always reach out to Josh or me in the months and years ahead.
I hope you'll be patient with us as we do the very hard and important work of making your government work again.
Government Can Work
I'm a firm believer that since – at the end of the day, all of us have to pay for government anyway, it should actually work.
It isn't very flashy – we usually don't grab headlines when government is working the way it should… but we always know when it isn't.
So I ask for your forbearance as we work very hard to become a little less news-worthy.
But, I also ask for your help. We need your strong leadership and the strong leadership of organizations like this one, which understand that we are all in this together.
It's that spirit of One Maryland that calls us to work together, in a spirit of compromise and collaboration, toward our shared goals.
There are very few states with the tremendous assets and opportunity that we have in every single city and county.
And I pledge to you that I will do everything in my power to preserve and strengthen our foundation in Mountain Maryland.
And to harness the opportunity of our growing and expanding economy, our historic beauty and traditions, and our high quality of life.
I think we are off to a good start. We had 3 days to put together a budget and legislative agenda.
Strengthening Western Maryland
Really, we been working on it over the last few months and I think we have made some significant strides.
Right now, we have a great opportunity to move forward with McMullen Highway – protecting our Transportation Trust Fund and strengthening our regional economy with our neighbors in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
We are taking steps in our legislative agenda to make health care more affordable – advancing a small business insurance exchange.
We are investing in our greatest strengths – the brainpower and creativity at Frostburg University and Garrett College – with new communication and community centers.
We are also committed to expanding the opportunities afforded by college to more students and growing our skilled workforce.
And we are preserving our heritage – protecting our forests, respecting the integrity of Program Open Space, and promoting tourism.
In fact – just yesterday – the Appalachian Regional Commission approved dollars to improve and expand our kiosk project – connecting visitors with businesses and opportunities.
But, we are not done. We have a lot of work ahead of us… and a lot of challenges.
I know that we see the dark clouds of structural deficits on the horizon. But that tells us – not so much what we can accomplish – but how quickly we can get there.
At the end of the day, our western counties have always been places of adventures, of renewal – but they also have been one of our greatest strengths.
They have provided the foundation – with enormous resources and an indomitable work ethic – for so much of our growth and development. And it's our privilege to be stewards of that tradition today.
Together, with hard working folks at the DBED, Planning and Agriculture… we are going to continue our progress – improving our regional partnership, strengthening our mining and manufacturing industry, and revitalizing our cities – while advancing toward the opportunities of bioscience, security and technology.
And, in the process, we are going to move our entire State forward. Because we understand that what's good for one part of our State is good for our entire State. That we are all in this together.
So, I really look forward to working with you, in partnership, to find the common ground and advance the common good.
Thank you very, very much for having me here this morning and for everything you're doing for our State.