A high-quality public education system is the foundation of Maryland’s prosperity – it is the key to our future. On Larry Hogan’s second day in office, he proposed cutting Maryland’s education budget by more than a billion dollars. I put it back in.
Hogan’s education agenda is focused solely on taking money from public schools and giving it to for-profit charter schools, to private schools, and to religious schools.
This is not just politics for me, it’s personal. I literally would not be here if not for public schools. As a young child, I rarely spoke. I had a speech impediment. Fortunately, my family lived here in Maryland, in a community that was committed to the success of every child, and that had the resources and public will to fund the critical services and talented educators needed to make that promise a reality. Maryland public schools gave me my voice.
I view public education as a ladder. For me, it was a ladder out of isolation. For many people, it’s been a ladder out of poverty and into the middle class. For new Americans, it’s a ladder into their new country.
We need to honor and respect the hands that steady that ladder, and pay teachers in line with the importance we place on their work.
Great public education systems develop great teachers and respect them with the authority to use their talents and experience.
I believe that eroding our commitment to and our faith in public education is a betrayal of the American Dream and Maryland’s promise. As your governor, my commitment to our public education system – one that helps every young person reach their full potential – will be unwavering. We will achieve universal pre-kindergarten, we will support and improve public K-12, and we will invest in our colleges and universities, including our HBCUs. You’ll see it in my budget. You’ll see it in my appointments. You’ll see it in our schools.
Nearly 500,000 Marylanders stand to lose access to affordable health care because of Trumpcare. It will open up a $1.4 billion deficit in our state budget – that’s how much money we stand to lose from the Medicaid cuts alone. Under Trumpcare, we are all going to pay a lot more for our insurance, if we can get it at all. And this healthcare bill jeopardizes almost 50,000 jobs in Maryland in the healthcare industry alone. Yet hardly a word from our Governor is spoken in protest.
I guarantee you this: When I am governor, no matter what Republicans in Congress do, Maryland will treat health care as a human right, and Maryland will ensure that every person has access to affordable health care.
Like many Marylanders, I believe single-payer is the ideal outcome. I think that to get there is a 10-year process, which I hope we have finally started in earnest. It took 48 years from the time the first social insurance program in Europe until Social Security was passed. It took 30 years for Medicare.
But states can’t do single-payer alone, it has to be national. If the sixth-largest economy in the world – California – or one of the smallest states – Vermont – can’t see how to make it work financially, neither can Maryland by itself.
The reason for that is that one of the cornerstones of single-payer is that the government can negotiate and enforce prices. States can’t do that, only the national government.
Given what the Republicans in Congress are doing, if we frame the single-payer discussion as all-or-nothing, we could end up with nothing. So while we’re working to enact single-payer, we need to also stand up a state public option and funding to replace the Medicaid money. This isn’t a case of the perfect versus the good enough. Everyone agrees that the ACA could be better. But there is a real likelihood that it may be gone.
Opioid and Heroin Addiction
There’s one other healthcare issue that I don’t believe gets enough real attention from Larry Hogan. We have a prescription opioid and heroin crisis in our state – a public health crisis that we ineffectively treat as a law enforcement issue. Entire communities across our state are being hollowed out by this crisis. There are economic and social issues feeding this epidemic that we must address, but before and above all else, we must ensure that our fellow Marylanders in the grips of addiction get the help they need, and that their families and communities are supported. Press conferences and monthly emergency declarations will not end this crisis, only a real and sustained commitment to care, and to identifying and fixing the root causes will.
In 2013, I led the successful effort to fund critical transportation improvements for the future. Hogan opposed the plan and made repealing it a centerpiece of his campaign the following year. Yet as soon as he got into office, he cherry-picked projects to eliminate, and redirected the money to places that voted for him, benefitting a privileged few supporters.
Sacrificing our long-term economic interests for his short-term political gain, Larry Hogan canceled a long-planned light rail line in Baltimore and a long-planned transit expansion in the I-270 corridor. He shifted millions of dollars of expenses for the Purple Line onto Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and then reduced the quality of the project. Instead of funding projects to reduce daily congestion in communities that happen to vote for Democrats, Larry Hogan is instead building a new road to the shore, but to the Delaware beaches, not Ocean City.
We need to return to the 2013 plan and build the critical projects in it. We need to stop using taxpayer money as a slush fund to reward friends and punish supposed enemies.
One area where Maryland really needs a governor who will push back on the Trump agenda is the environment.
Donald Trump has proposed zeroing out funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration. The loss of these federal funds will cripple our ability to monitor the Bay and enforce the laws to protect it. And without federal engagement, we have no ability to get Pennsylvania or Virginia to keep their promises about cleaning up the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is not only a natural resource, but also an economic engine for a large part of our state. This priceless jewel, so central to our state’s identity, must be protected.
Hogan says he believes in climate change, but he’s unwilling to lead on any of the efforts to reverse its effects. He says he’s “concerned” about Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord, but he made it clear that Maryland would not join the multi-state climate alliance.
As a state Senator, I’ve fought to end fracking, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and invest in renewable energy resources. As Governor, I will ensure our state is a leader these areas.
Two hundred years ago, the first gas lamps in America were turned on in Baltimore. Maryland was a leader in this, and fossil fuels revolutionized our economy and our quality of life. But that was then, and now we need to move on, with that same spirit of innovation, to help us move to the next sources of energy to power future growth.
Innovation has always been the key to Maryland’s prosperity. We are not a mining state or an oil state or a timber state. We don’t have an extraction economy. We have an innovation economy. Our greatest resource is our people – people that simply cannot be found in other places. Our path to continued prosperity is our tremendous and talented workforce, which I believe is our greatest asset for businesses.
Larry Hogan thinks that the way to grow Maryland’s economy is to turn it into a low-wage, low-regulation, anti-union state racing to the bottom while flinging taxpayer money at large corporations. This is not an investment strategy.
We need to direct economic development resources away from large companies with no loyalty to Maryland workers, and toward small- and medium-sized businesses that really are the “job creators.” We need to increase credential programs and align community college schedules with real-world student needs. We need a spectrum of education that trains people for their first job, and for their next job.
Too many Marylanders work part-time when they want to work full-time. Too many work full-time but still can only afford to live paycheck to paycheck.
A growing economy must be also a just economy. That starts with a $15 an hour minimum wage, indexed to the cost of living, so that no one falls behind again, and I have proudly supported this in the General Assembly.
One of the cruelest Republican lies is that higher wages are bad for the economy and cost jobs, when the opposite is actually true. Consumer spending drives our economy. When people have more money, the economy grows, and companies hire.
My goal for Maryland’s young people is that they “Thrive by 25,” That by their mid-20s, Marylanders have the education and the tools they need for a prosperous, productive adulthood, and have not had to borrow the cost of a first house to get there.
We need a governor who is going to stand up and protect reproductive rights without equivocation. Earlier this year, Washington tried to force Planned Parenthood out of business. We said no and I introduced and got passed a new law that guarantees Maryland will step in and continue to reimburse Planned Parenthood for the health care services it provides in our state. This leadership was critical to ensuring that young people in Maryland, and especially young women of color, still have access to primary care, mammograms, cancer screenings, birth control, medical advice, and abortions. As the first state to take this extraordinary step, Maryland is leading the country.
A lot of people know me around the state as the person who brought marriage equality to Maryland. And I am very proud of that reputation. I fought friends and foes alike to get it done. I stood up for what was right and good – the civil rights of the people of our state.
These rights take many forms, and impact people in many ways. It can be restoring rights of the formerly incarcerated and supporting sentencing and bail reform, because too many don’t get the second chance they’ve earned, or are stuck in jail not because they have been convicted, but because they are poor. It can be the rights of persons with disabilities to be educated, live, work and thrive in the community of their choice. It can be the right of individuals to age with dignity and respect.
In the General Assembly, and out, I have delivered on civil rights for the people of Maryland. But I am not finished. I will never be finished. I will cede no ground on civil rights, LGBTQ rights, workers’ rights, or women’s rights. Rights are rights.