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Md. must do more with less

February 09, 2009|By MARTIN O'MALLEY

I'd like to express my deepest thanks for the warmth and hospitality of the people of Western Maryland, where I, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and members of our executive cabinet held our first in a series of town hall meetings on education and our economy.

I hear every day from Maryland families who continue to struggle to do more with less. As we travel across our one Maryland to hear directly from our working families, as we did in Frostburg on Wednesday night, we hope to put people in need directly in touch with the services and programs that are in place to provide assistance during these tough times.

Like Maryland families, our government must find ways to do more with less, but we continue to protect important programs such as foreclosure aid, higher education financial aid, assistance for seniors, the energy assistance program, employment services, and veterans' affairs.

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At Mountain Ridge High School on Wednesday night, we heard from families who've been impacted by this national recession - people like Jesse from Garrett County, Md., whose concerns about affordable health care were met with help from the State's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Wednesday night.

Workers from DHMH helped Jesse apply for recently expanded Medicare and Medicaid programs here in Maryland. Other citizens voiced concerns about pending transportation projects in Western Maryland. Our secretary of transportation was able to provide updated project status and timelines for specific infrastructure projects throughout the region.

These folks weren't looking for handouts, or some silver bullet to solve the economic crisis. Instead, they came to Mountain Ridge High School to talk with the officials who they've entrusted to make the tough decisions to quickly navigate our state through this recession. They came to Mountain Ridge High School hoping for some answers from their state, and it's my hope that by bringing those programs and services to the town hall with us, we were able to provide those answers.

Over these past two years, we've met with folks from Western Maryland and across our state - people who are concerned about important things like access to affordable health care, protection of Maryland's open space, and the quality of our public schools. We're proud now to return to these areas with proof of the progress we've made as one Maryland.

We've expanded access to quality, affordable health care to 100,000 more Marylanders. We've preserved more than 21,000 acres of ecologically significant land throughout Maryland, including more than 250 acres in Allegany County acquired for recreational use just last year. And thanks to the dedication of our parents and educators, and record state funding for education, Maryland can stand proudly as the number one-ranked public school system in America.

In the year ahead we have some difficult decisions before us as we work to protect our priorities and expand the safety net for Maryland's working families. These town hall meetings will allow the citizens of Maryland to come together to learn about the various programs and services our state provides.

I want to thank the people of Western Maryland for being a part of our more recent town hall meeting. We encourage you to visit www.problemsolver.maryland.gov for direct access to the state services available at each town hall meeting. I also encourage all Maryland citizens to continue this dialogue by writing our office at governor@gov.state.md.us.

Martin O'Malley is Maryland's governor.

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