We came into the 2011 legislative session laser-focused on balancing the state's budget, creating jobs, making our pension system more sustainable, and protecting our record investments in education.
And by working together, we've been able to make progress on all of those goals.
We closed a $1.4 billion budget gap, cut the expected deficit for next year by 42 percent, invested a record $5.8 billion into our number-one-ranked public schools, and we preserved a defined benefit for state workers while making our pension system more sustainable.
Still, our nation continues to experience a very fragile economic recovery. There is no doubt, we are in a period of profound economic change, the likes of which we have never seen before. We're in a fight, literally, for our economic future. And that's why I am so pleased that this year, we were able to pass InvestMaryland.
This critical program harnesses the talent, creativity, and potential of Maryland's innovation economy while at the same time creating thousands of jobs and spurring economic development. And it's one of the most important investments we've made this session that will position Maryland to become a winner in the new economy.
In Maryland, we sit at the crossroads of science, technology, and innovation, and we are uniquely positioned as a hub for research and development. The Chamber of Commerce, the Kauffman Index, and the Milken Institute all rank Maryland among the top two or three states for innovation, science, and our ability to be a winner in this new economy. But, when it comes to access to venture capital, Milken ranks us #14 -- the lowest score they give to our state.
And that's why InvestMaryland is so important.
This job-creating, economic driver will get venture capital flowing again. By allowing insurance companies to prepay future tax liabilities, we'll be able to unlock more than $70 million in capital for our businesses. These funds will be available immediately and will provide our start ups with the early seed dollars they need, turning the research of today into the revolutionary technologies of tomorrow.
Now, instead of watching our entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators build businesses and create jobs in other states, we'll watch them grow right here in Maryland.
Those profits will not only produce a return on our investment, but will fuel economic progress in our state for years to come. Their latest technologies, cures, and procedures will put thousands of hardworking moms and dads back to work and attract the finest talent in research and development to Maryland.
In this changing new economy, we are in a battle for jobs and opportunity. The states that win will be those that spur innovation and protect key priorities.
With InvestMaryland, we are one step closer towards achieving that better future we all prefer.
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