George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker,
III Delivers 5th “State of the Economy” Address to Business Leaders
County Executive Baker’s speech, “Investing
in Education: The Time is Now!” focuses on importance of investing in PGCPS in order to
grow County's economy.
By Press Officer
Upper Marlboro, MD - Prince George’s
County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III delivered his 5th “State
of the Economy” address entitled “Investing in Education: The Time is
Now!” to business leaders during a breakfast hosted by the
Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Prince
George's Business Roundtable held at the Colony South Hotel & Convention
Center in Clinton, MD. To watch the
speech, please click here. Residents are
also encouraged to visit the Investing in Education Homepage on the Prince
George’s County website to learn more about this investment.
“Investing in the Prince George’s
County Public Schools is what we must do to change our trajectory,” said
County Executive Baker. “If we
don’t take ownership for investing in our children’s
success, who will? If we want to improve
property values and bring more businesses here, this is what we must do. If we
want to grow and expand our commercial tax base, this is what we must do. If we
want to be the new economic engine of the State, this is what we must do. And
if we want the best for our children and the families of Prince George’s
County, this is what we must do. Our County is moving in the right
direction. But we must embrace this
challenge and lay the foundation for your children and this County for
generations to come.”
As a follow-up to today’s “State of the Economy”
address, tomorrow, County Executive Baker will participate in the
groundbreaking for a new Dave and Buster's Restaurant moving to Prince George's
County which will be located at Ritchie Station Marketplace in Capitol Heights,
MD at 10:30 a.m. and will be visiting Eleanor Roosevelt High School at 12:00
p.m. for the 31st Annual Science Fair and Research Practicum Symposium for STEM
Text of County Executive State of the Economy
Investing in Education: The Time is Now April 16, 2015
“Good morning! It is another great day in Prince George’s
County. I want to say thank you to the
EDC, and its Board of Directors. And the Greater Prince George’s Business
Roundtable. I also want to say thank you for supporting so many of my
administration’s initiatives. I appreciate your commitment to making this
County the best it can be.
President Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for
some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been
waiting for. We are the change we seek.” He is
so right. And for the last 4 years, change has been this county’s
mantra and together, we have made great strides moving closer and closer to our
Today we can boast of having 2 of the 3 sites the GSA is
considering for the new FBI headquarters. Last year we broke ground on the new
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Next month we will be cutting the ribbon to
celebrate the opening of the first state government agency in Prince George’s
County. A project that is jumpstarting development in New Carrollton.
In 4 years we've reduced crime 36%, and we are down 21% from
last year. We have shown that our ability to continue to reduce crime is no
fluke. Through programs like our Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI),
we are proving that by working with communities to solve problems in a holistic
manner we can make a difference. The TNI model has proven to be sustainable and
We have reduced crime, which is helping to bolster our
housing market. Housing sales and
property values are improving and we expect them to get better. We are bringing in new development and we
continue to chalk up wins like our first Whole Foods, Dave and Busters, Harris
Teeter, as well as new hotels. Companies
like Bozzuto and Thompson Creek Windows electing to stay in the County and
expand their operations. Our major development
projects are moving forward and we continue to tout $6 billion dollars in
development projects that are working their way through the pipeline, ranging
from our $650 million Regional Medical Center to the $1.2 billion, MGM
Destination Resort Casino.
But in order for us to continue this unprecedented growth,
we must be BOLD, INNOVATIVE and WILLING to take aggressive measures that will
ensure our economic future. This is why we made some hard decisions in the FY
2016 proposed budget. No longer could we dip into our reserves to resolve
revenue shortfall. In order to maintain our AAA bond rating, it was imperative
that we propose cost cutting measures that will have longer term impact on our
So this year’s budget proposes employee furloughs and layoffs in order
to balance the budget. In addition, we asked agencies to once again make needed
cuts. However, there are two areas we did not cut: Education and Public Safety.
These are two key areas that define any jurisdiction.
We have turned around crime and brought in major economic
development, but the one area that continues to be our Achilles heel is the
perceived quality of our public school system. While we have made some
important changes that have led to improvements both in how our schools are run
and how our children perform, I am not satisfied with where we are at this
point. Without a strong school system,
our property values will continue to lag which will handicap our ability to
attract more business and commerce to the County.
It is why we must do what our neighbors have done-- the
District, Arlington, Fairfax, and Montgomery counties --- to attract people and
businesses. They demonstrated their commitment to education by investing in
their schools and their students. These are our competitors! This is a very
wealthy region. 7 of the nation’s top 13 richest counties are all around us and we are
competing with them for residents, businesses and retail. We cannot lose sight
of the fact that elevating our schools is paramount to our future success--it
is an economic necessity.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said, “Over
the long term, the only way we're going to raise wages, grow the economy, and
improve American competitiveness is by investing in our people - especially
Improving the quality of our schools is the key to helping
us accelerate our recovery from the recession.
Without a strong school system, young families in D.C. or the
surrounding area think twice about moving here. Without a strong school system,
it will be far more difficult for us to be the economic engine for the State of
Our children and our schools are important and we cannot
continue to kick their futures…our future…down the road like an old can. I will not stand idly by and let us
marginalize ourselves or our children. If we want to have one of the top schools
systems in the state, we have to invest in them. We must believe that we can
make it happen. We must believe within our hearts and souls that our schools
can move into top ten by 2020.
Every day, real estate agents are trying to sell houses in
the County and their clients are asking, “So how are the schools in this
neighborhood?” I want the answer
to be “The schools are excellent.”
When your businesses are looking for strong candidates to fill jobs, you
should not have to look any further than Prince George’s
County, because they are college and career ready. When our Economic
Development team recruits corporations that are looking to move their
headquarters here or open an office; we must be able to proudly say, “Our
schools are great!” A strong school system will create greater demand for
office space and homes. Education is Everyone’s Business, and today, we ALL must
realize that we have to make our schools our top priority. And that means
increasing our investment in our children.
There has been a perception that our schools are not
well-run and that my budget proposal to invest more in our schools is just
throwing good money after bad. With the changes we made in the leadership of
our schools, we are in a much better position to take on this very challenging
task of catapulting our schools from the bottom to the top. You see, I
understand that voters and business people like you are looking at several key
factors before you support a project or initiative. I knew we had to show
people that things have changed and our schools are worth investing in.
Two years ago, we revamped and strengthened our school board
and added, new members who brought extensive experience and education in
business, higher education, finance and teacher quality. We hired one of the
nation’s top superintendents, Dr. Maxwell, who is a son of Prince
George’s County and who has worked in 3 school districts in the
state of Maryland. We changed the name
of his position from superintendent to CEO.
Why? Because our schools are a major
enterprise with a huge budget and countless assets. I wanted a leader who not only understood how
to educate children, but also understood the business of running a school
So for the past two years, Dr. Maxwell, his leadership team
and the Board, have been assessing the state of our schools. They have implemented programs and
initiatives that have helped us make progress.
Elevating our teaching expertise and now Prince George’s
County has the third highest number of National Board certified teachers in
Maryland. Implemented cost saving
measures that have led to over $70 million in savings. Enrollment is up and
continues to rise. We had a historic
improvement in graduation rates last year and 9th grade promotions are up
But to really move the needle and position us among the top
ten school districts in the state,
I knew it would require us to make a significant investment.
In the first year, this plan will require an investment of $133 million. An investment that will impact All schools
across the County.
We are investing in programs such as:
• College & Career Readiness- $3 million
• Digital Literacy - $6 million
• Universal Pre-K - $2 million
• Retention Pay of Education - $20 million
• Family and Community Engagement - $1 million
This is a significant increase, but it is an investment we
must make to secure our future. It is
the level of investment that our neighbors have been making for decades.
When comparing ourselves to our neighbors in Montgomery,
Fairfax, Alexandria or Howard County, our local contribution to the total
amount of money spent on education is the lowest percentage in the region. In
fact, we contribute about 36% in County funds and the state contributes 57%.
And Montgomery County contributes 66% locally and the state contributes 27%.
The percentages are similar throughout the region.
The fact of the matter is…we have been limiting our improvement
for far too long and this is our opportunity to change the course of things. It is time to make the investments that will
take us out of the economic policies of the 1970s and 80s and do what we must
to do to position us for prosperity in the future. For 15 cents more… we can
dramatically change our schools. For
businesses, we are asking you to make a significant investment as well. You too
will contribute to this investment through property, personal property and
Look, I understand that no one wants to pay more in taxes. I
don’t either. But this
is what we must do to change our trajectory.
If we don’t take ownership for investing in our children’s
success, who will? If we want to improve property values and bring more
businesses here, this is what we must do. If we want to grow and expand our
commercial tax base, this is what we must do. If we want to be the new economic
engine of the State, this is what we must do. And if we want the best for our
children and the families of Prince George’s County, this is what we must do.
Every year at my budget hearings the most common request is
for more money to: expand academic programs, reduce classroom size, improve
facilities; and provide all day pre-k. We can’t keep talking about having better
schools...but run and hide when the bill is due. Do you know what the most asked question that
I have heard in my 20 years of public service to this County? “What
are we going to do about our schools?” My friends, it's time for us to put
up... or forever hold our peace. We either want the best schools or we don't.
It is just that simple!
This is our moment … Now is the time. Will it be easy?
Absolutely NOT! But I am confident we can through sacrifice, we will be
successful. And with an unprecedented level of development projects on tap. A
decreasing crime rate. An improving healthcare system with the new Regional
Medical Center. And one of the top superintendents in the nation leading our
school system. Our County is moving in
the right direction. But we must embrace
this challenge and lay the foundation for your children and this County for
generations to come.
will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” This
investment is about change. Dramatic
Change! It is about us believing in schools and our children. I refuse to give up on us. But more
importantly, I refuse to give up on the children of Prince George’s County."
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