What is your position on a state living wage?
I fully support a state living wage and am the only candidate to propose a plan to make it happen. No one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. Even $10.10 an hour is not enough for families to live and meet housing, food, child care, college, and other basic necessities. My plan will gradually align our minimum wage with the already existing living wage for state contractors—reaching $16.70 by 2022. It is predictable for business and it will encourage economic growth.
My plan also includes raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to 70% of the wage for non-tipped workers—$11.69 by 2022—and indexing the wage to cost of living increases after 2022.
Does Montgomery County need more school funding?
It certainly needs more school construction funding. Our children deserve better than learning out of trailers, or moldy classrooms. All three candidates have spoken about increasing funding for new schools in the county, but I’m the only one with a plan for bringing in the new revenue needed to make it a reality. My penny tax plan will allow Montgomery County voters the option to generate over $100 million in additional funding for new schools.
In an effort to tackle the achievement gap in our schools—including in Montgomery County—we do need to increase funding to reduce class sizes and boost teacher salaries. In order to do this in a fiscally responsible way, I will create a new “Thornton 2.0” commission to study and decide how new funding can most effectively reduce inequalities in our schools.
Are you in favor of a millionaires tax?
As was pointed out by The Washington Post, I am the only Democratic candidate for governor with a comprehensive income tax plan. When I am governor, 90% of Maryland families and seniors will benefit from over $112 million in personal income tax cuts, paid for by making our tax code more progressive and asking the wealthiest in the state to pay a bit more—through a millionaire’s tax. The middle class has carried far too heavy of a burden of funding our critical public investments under the current administration, who allowed the millionaire’s tax to expire while raising taxes on everyone else. I will reserve that and give middle class families the relief they need.
What is your plan for mitigating flooding due to climate change in future decades?
Our state has to start taking climate change far more seriously. We talk a big game and have taken some first steps, but far more action is required. It begins with rejecting the proposed liquefied natural gas export facility in Cove Point, which would emit more greenhouse gas than from all of our state’s coal fired power plants combined. It also requires us to say yes to things like the wind energy project in Somerset County. Neither of my opponents are willing to make these same commitments to stopping climate change.
I will increase our Renewable Energy Portfolio to 40% by 2025 and invest in our clean energy economy. Expanding solar, wind, biomass, and other truly clean energy sources is our only path to serving as a full partner to our country and world in saving our environment.
What is the main thrust of your environmental policy?
While I am deeply committed to slowing climate change, my top environmental priority is cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is our greatest natural resource and while its health has slowly improved through the years, our barely passing grade of a C is not enough. Most of Maryland’s rivers earned a D in 2013, and the Patapsco and Back rivers received an F. A clean Chesapeake Bay starts with what flows into it, and I am committed to cleaning up our streams and waterways, reducing nutrient pollution and stormwater runoff and returning Maryland’s streams and rivers to pristine condition.
My Bay clean-up plan has four parts: boosting oyster populations, conserving bayside land, building new green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff, and reducing chicken waste pollution. No more lip service on cleaning up the Bay—we have to work together to make it happen.
What is your position on fracking?
While I worked with my colleagues to hold off on big oil companies wanting to frack first and answer questions later, neighboring states rushed forward to disastrous results: livestock falling over dead, contaminated drinking water, and huge spikes in earthquakes. Second chances are really expensive—we have to get this right the first time.
As governor, I will not let fracking begin until it is clear that we can do it safely. But safety studies have not yet proven that we can frack without irreversible damage to our environment and public health. We have to demand to know what the impact would be on our natural resources, on our health, on our local economies before we make a decision on whether or not to drill. It is the next governor that gets to make that decision and you want an environmentalist governor to make that call.
Do you have a jobs program?
I have a ten point jobs plan focused on growing the economy through progressive, meaningful reforms. We know that when we put more money in the hands of the middle class, it goes right back into the economy—families going to the movies or buying their children new shoes and school supplies. By increasing wages and cutting taxes for 90% of Maryland families, we can grow our economy from the middle out.
I will also close a tax loophole that allows a handful of multi-state corporations to avoid paying taxes and dedicate up to $200 million of revenue to small business tax relief. Small businesses are the job creators in our local communities, and giving them relief will help them grow.
I will put Marylanders back to work building modern schools, bridges, roads, and transit, and invest in job training, clean energy, cybersecurity, life sciences, and the arts.
What is your position on reintegrating felons into Maryland’s civic and employment arenas?
We cannot settle for “tough on crime” after the fact—we need to stop crime before it ever occurs. Last year, Baltimore City had 540 shootings, enough for one and a half per day. But it is not just Baltimore City—Maryland has the ninth highest crime rate in the country. We need a new direction that’s smart on crime.
One key component of this new strategy is reforming our approach to corrections. Our recidivism rate is still above 40% and its far worse for juveniles. Re-entry needs to start at entry. I will invest $15 million a year in community-based re-entry programs, expand “Ban the Box” to private employment, and exact shielding laws to protect non-violent offenders from facing barriers to jobs, housing, and education.
If you could enact a single change for Maryland, what would it be?
Closing the income inequality gap is my top priority and it’s going to take many different policy decisions to get it done: making our tax code more progressive, raising wages, and making retirement savings, child care, housing, and college more affordable. But our inequalities in our economy come from our inequalities in our schools. Closing the achievement gap has to be one of most urgent tasks.
We will pass and implement many important reforms during my time as governor, but universal pre-K may be the most critical. It is one of the best investments we can make as a state—for every dollar we spend on pre-K, the state gets five dollars back in special education, public safety, and health care savings, as well as boosted tax revenue. Not only is it a moral obligation, but it will also boost the lifetime earnings of those underserved by our current system.
- Democracy for America
- Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35
- Sierra Club Maryland Chapter
- Maryland National Organization for Women PAC
- Women’s Campaign Fund
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) PAC
- Feminist Majority
- Blue America
- The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
- Progressive Neighbors
- Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC)
- Central Baltimore County Democratic Club (CBCDC)
- Southwest Baltimore County Democratic Club
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