As the only candidate for governor who is a product of Maryland public schools from K-12, the daughter of two public school educators, and a mother, improving our public schools is my absolute top priority. I remember my father using his own salary to pay for classroom supplies that the school could not provide, and I can still recall trailers that doubled as classrooms at my high school. Despite the evident lack of funding, the education I received through Maryland public schools provided me with the skills I needed to succeed beyond graduation. I believe every Maryland child has the fundamental right to a quality education and the opportunities it unlocks. That is why I am committed to educational excellence for every Maryland student, regardless of their county or zip code.
Fixing Maryland’s Public Schools
The only way to ensure that every Maryland child receives a high quality education is to fix the massive funding inequities that plague our educational system. It is simply unacceptable that Maryland, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, allows tens of thousands of students to graduate from high school every year neither career-ready nor college-ready. Further, we have too many decrepit school facilities, like my high school Woodlawn High, that are falling apart (Woodlawn is finally undergoing a renovation after decades of neglect). The Kirwan Commission has recommended that we should invest an additional $2.9 billion in public spending to address these funding inequities, which have been exacerbated in recent years as base state funding was reduced and displaced by casino and lottery revenues that were intended to supplement and not supplant existing funds.
As Governor, I will not short-change our kids or ask teachers to use their own hard-earned money to plug funding gaps. I am fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission and making sizable investments in public education that ensure a world-class public education is available to all Maryland students.
To do this, we need to do six things:
- We must secure outside funding for investments like Pre-K that can pay for themselves ($19 in near-term savings per $1 invested; $38 savings in the long-term) by monetizing the long-term savings and using the future savings to repay social bonds, etc.
- We must earmark the amount of lottery and casino revenue that goes toward education and restore the promises made that gambling would increase overall education spending, rather than allowing cuts to base funding.
- We must reallocate resources within the existing budget by funding drug treatment which is ten times cheaper than incarceration and ending the money bail system both of which would free up resources to increase funding for education.
- We must generate new revenues from private sector jobs growth.
- We must raise revenues by increasing taxes on things that we want less of like vices/pollution and modernizing our tax code.
- We must renovate our schools to make them safer, healthier, and more energy/water efficient—and the operational cost-savings should be directed back into school construction and educational programs.
Guaranteeing Universal, High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten
Every child in Maryland deserves access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. Study after study has shown that pre-k can close the achievement gap and set children up for success. By the time they enter kindergarten, low-income children are already six months or further behind in reading and math skills. Universal pre-K can change that, but our state isn’t even in the top 10 when it comes to access to early childhood education.
As Governor, I will guarantee that all Maryland four-year olds have access to universal, high-quality early education that will allow them to enter kindergarten ready to learn, read and grow. Our universal pre-K program will provide funding to local school districts to increase access at public elementary schools. As Governor, I will also ensure increased funding for Maryland cities, communities, and community-based organizations to help these local groups provide greater access to high-quality pre-K all across the state. This is a promise I’ll gladly make to every working parent who wants her child to start off on the right foot, and to every Maryland child, regardless of where they live.
Providing Free Access to Healthy Breakfast and Lunch
Maryland already has nationally acclaimed school lunch and breakfast programs, yet 16% of our children still go hungry. Kids can’t give their teachers their full attention on an empty stomach. We have a moral obligation to ensure every student has an opportunity to succeed. It starts with hot breakfast and lunch every single day, so no child is ever hungry.
Expanding 21st Century STEAM Education in Maryland
In a world where technology is always advancing and new career pathways often have a technology focus, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education is increasingly important. We must properly invest in and support rigorous STEAM curricula in our K-12 public schools, to spark our students’ interests early. Computer literacy, math, and science now rival basic competencies like reading comprehension and writing as the key indicators of a student’s college and career readiness. Our children cannot fall behind. Making these opportunities available for all students, and reducing the gender and racial disparities in STEAM programs, will go far in giving every Maryland student the necessary skills they need to be successful.
Ensuring Free Community College & Job Training
As Maryland high schoolers prepare for college and career, the cost of further school is too often a major obstacle. Nearly half of all Maryland high school students enroll in a two-year institution of some kind, whether that is community college or a career and technical certificate program. We should not leave our high school graduates stranded as they make the leap. And we especially should make sure that our current and future college students don’t leave college with enormous, unbearable amounts of debt. As such, I propose to make all community college and career/technical programs in the state as affordable as possible by guaranteeing all two-year graduates leave debt-free.
My administration will work with the General Assembly to establish a state-wide “promise program” that will provide funding for tuition and fees to all students in public, two-year institutions across the state. Second, my administration will ensure that community colleges get the fiscal support they need from the state, since they rely more heavily on state tax dollars than traditional, four year colleges and universities.
Finally, I want to make sure that community college students with jobs are able to continue their studies without breaking the bank or sacrificing their employment. To do this, we will establish a state micro-grant program to support two-year students’ transportation expenses. A little extra to simply get from home to college to work and back, all in time to help with dinner or spend time family, makes a challenging schedule just a little bit easier. This small transportation stipend would match any pre-existing federal work-study funds that Maryland community college students currently receive, making it truly possible to receive a quality higher education, while supporting yourself and your family.
Community colleges should offer educational opportunities for every Maryland high schooler and provide an affordable stepping stone to all career paths. As governor, I’m prepared to make educational opportunities a reality with better state policy and funding commitments.
3-months of paid family leave for every Maryland resident
Only 13% of the American workforce has access to paid family leave, lower than any other developed democracy. Maryland’s current state policy allows only 6-weeks of unpaid leave for a newborn baby or recently adopted child. It does not provide paid family leave, leaving mothers and fathers left to make difficult tradeoffs between their children, their lifestyles, and their careers.
I’m a new mom, and this issue is a top priority. My administration will work with the General Assembly to ensure three months of paid family leave for every parent in our state — because no one should have to choose between caring for their child and putting food on the table. This policy will make our workers more productive, our state more attractive to live in, and our economy more efficient and equitable. Paid family leave policy often attracts broad-bipartisan support, and rightfully so: there is little controversial about a healthier work-life balance or a more equitable, inclusive, and efficient economy.
Guaranteeing paid family leave ensures all parents can afford to take time off work to care for a newborn baby. But paid leave is about more than just childcare — this promise means every Maryland resident has the support they need to care for a sick family member, an aging parent, or a newborn child. Guaranteeing 3 months of paid leave in our state eliminates the choice between caring for a loved one and stable employment: the kind of impossible decision that too many Marylanders already make every day. Paid family leave also:
- Improves employee loyalty and productivity, which increases businesses’ overall capacity and substantially cuts recruiting costs.
- Reduces post-neonatal mortality for women.
- Encourages a closer bond between fathers and their children.
- Significantly decreases the gender wage gap.
- Builds stronger family ties, and a more balanced work lifestyle.
We believe that every family should have access to paid family leave, regardless of income, employment, or zip code, and as governor, I will work with the private sector to ensure individuals on leave receive up to 70% their weekly income. Qualifying Marylanders include anyone with a sick member of their immediate family (parent, child, spouse or sibling), a newborn baby or a newly adopted child, or a serious personal illness.
Guaranteeing high quality, afford healthcare
Healthcare is a human right, and under my administration, every Marylander will have access to affordable healthcare. Over 350,000 people in Maryland are currently uninsured, and as the Trump administration attempts to dismantle our national healthcare infrastructure, another 400,000 Marylanders could lose coverage.
My administration will work with the General Assembly to develop and implement a state-run public option that would offer affordable healthcare coverage to each and every Maryland resident. A public option is a government-run insurance plan available over the Affordable Care Act exchanges that would compete against private insurers – driving down the overall cost of health insurance, particularly in areas with just one or two private insurance options.
This solution allows Maryland to achieve our universal coverage and affordability goals without raising taxes or recklessly dismantling our current healthcare infrastructure. We need to make immediate improvements to the coverage, quality, and cost of Maryland’s healthcare for all its residents – regardless of their income or zip code.
As governor, I’ll be focused on improving outcomes for patients, and to do so, I’ve called for the following:
- Expand Maryland’s all-payer rate-setting system, which improves patient outcomes and lowers overall costs, beyond just hospitals
- Reinvest in preventative public health programs through innovation grants to city and county health departments
- Employ targeted enrollment incentives to encourage uninsured Marylanders to sign up for the public option on the ACA exchange
- Improve healthcare access and coordination in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore by expanding grants to community health workers, school-based health centers, mobile integrated heath units, and other non-traditional providers and improving access to public transportation.
- Enhance senior care and end of life care, so seniors are not forced to choose between receiving high quality health services and remaining in their homes.
- Develop new efforts to improve maternity care in hospitals and ensure that maternal health considerations are part of statewide programs that focus on preventative healthcare, healthy lifestyle promotion, and management of pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, which make childbirth more dangerous for women.
Improving Gender Equity
In Maryland, women represent 51% of our makeup. Yet under Governor Hogan, women make up less than a quarter of our state’s cabinet officials, and just a single woman of color has a seat at the table. Maryland’s policies reflect this absence of women in leadership positions: We rank last in the nation in support for childcare and near last for senior-care; school performance is declining; we have kids freezing in schools; we have high rates of domestic violence, and we were among the last states to restrict paternity rights for rapists. And Maryland women make 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual wage gap of $10,000 (gap is much larger for women of color).
Working alongside two of the toughest, brightest, and most capable women of our time, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, I learned firsthand that the best way to address these challenges is to have more women in leadership positions. So as the first female Governor, I am committed to giving Marylanders a cabinet that looks like Maryland. I will end the wage gap in state government and push businesses to do the same. We cannot allow prejudice and implicit bias to prevent good decision-making. My administration will be the first in Maryland to achieve gender parity at the highest levels of state government.
Making Maryland the Most Immigrant-Friendly State in America
As one of more than a million first and second generation Americans living in Maryland, I am outraged and angry about the Trump Administration’s repeated attacks on immigrants—and the complicit silence of Governor Hogan. We have seen attempts to end immigration from some Muslim nations, build a border wall, launch raids targeting non-violent immigrants across the country, revoke Temporary Protected Status for more than 20,000 of our fellow Marylanders, insult and denigrate African and Caribbean nations, and remove protections for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who came here as children and now risk being deported to countries they hardly know.
My administration will be fully committed to protecting the values we hold dearest: values of tolerance, diversity, and strength in difference. We will fight to ensure that immigrants and their families remain protected and welcomed in Maryland. We will employ our state’s full constitutional rights to resist federal immigration enforcement efforts and prohibit any state resources from being used to support ICE and CBP attempts to deport non-violent Maryland residents.
In addition to opposing federal attacks on immigrants, my administration will ensure all Marylanders have equal access to schools, kindergarten, health care, and good jobs, and ensure that our communities remain strong in their diversity and that everyone gets an equal voice, regardless of where you come from. We will support educational opportunities for immigrants, including more opportunities online and at local community colleges. We also will work with employers to encourage the hiring of immigrants and ensure immigrants have access to necessary services and forms of identification.
Reducing Gun Violence
In Baltimore, for the past four years, there has been a murder nearly every day. Thoughts and prayers are not enough to end the bloodshed. We need to address the problem holistically through increased job opportunities, improved educational opportunities, and access to healthcare and drug treatment. But we must also aggressively shift away from mass incarceration to a culture of treating non-violent offenders. We must restart Baltimore’s gun buyback program, ban bump stocks, expand Safe Streets, fully fund Operation Safe Kids, depoliticize the handgun review board, implement stricter background checks, and require safety courses. No child—in Baltimore or anywhere—should grow up in a state, where gun violence is the norm. As a mom, you can trust that I will act.
Confronting the Opioid Epidemic
In 2017, nearly 2,000 Marylanders died from opioids – over six times the number that died in 2014—and 2018 is not looking any better. Some of these drugs, particularly those laced with fentanyl and carfentanil, can be more than 50 times more addictive than heroin. These days, it seems like each and every Marylander can cite a friend or relative affected by this issue. Addiction tears at the fabric of our communities. The victims don’t live on the fringes of society; they are our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, parents, neighbors, and friends.
Candidates in both parties like to demand the state must hold drug companies, doctors, and pharmacists accountable. And of course we should; but if we’re going to get any closer to really addressing the underlying causes of the addiction crisis, we need more than a popular political one-liner as a solution. If elected Governor, I want to fight all forms of addiction. To do this, we need to approach this issue from three angles: long-term prevention, immediate lifesaving action, and treatment access.
Expanding treatment access means ensuring every town and municipality, no matter how small, has temporary addiction treatment clinics run by the State of Maryland. To do this, we need to integrate the Maryland Department of Health with other state-run services to coordinate “whole-person” care for those struggling with any kind of addiction. Healthcare is significantly impacted by environment – non-medical factors account for 60-80% of a person’s health outcomes. Realigning our state agencies data, eligibility, and approach to service could both expand access and significantly reduce the cost of this and future interventions to taxpayers.
Immediate lifesaving action means expanding access to naloxone, the overdose reversal agent. Every home in Western Maryland should have a free dose of this lifesaving drug at the ready. Immediate action further means expanding the Overdose Survivor Outreach Program (OSOP) to every single medical facility in the state. This program intervenes after a patient arrives at the emergency room during or immediately following a drug overdose. Through this program, medical staff can immediately ensure thousands of the people already struggling with addiction go directly into treatment, rather than back out into their community.
Strategies for long-term prevention must address what some economists describe as “deaths of despair.” Deaths from drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol remain highest in rural communities and amongst people without a college degree. To attack this fundamental inequity, we need to make education and economic opportunity available from cradle to career – restoring both access and dignity to work and investing in our state’s educational infrastructure.
From Mountain Maryland to the Eastern Shore, we are blessed with some of our nation’s most pristine natural resources—resources I am committed to protecting for today and for the future. But we also believe that we can protect our environment, grow our economy, and improve your quality of life all at the same time.
Leading on Climate & Clean Energy
Maryland will be impacted by climate change more than nearly any state in the nation. We already face some of the worst air quality as a downwind state from the large coal plants in the Midwest. As a low-lying coastal state, climate change threatens to decimate our coastal communities from extreme weather and sea level rise, flood out communities adjacent to riparian corridors, undo much of progress towards restoring the Bay as greater levels of precipitation bring torrents of nutrients and sediment into its tributaries, fundamentally alter agricultural growing seasons, further exacerbate public health threats, especially those facing environmental justice communities, and introduce invasive species and disease that could devastate native wildlife and plant populations.
My administration will make Maryland the national leader (and an international leader) in climate action by cutting overall greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the end of my second term; deploying more than 2,500 MW of clean energy by 2026 (as part of a larger 100% clean energy goal); reducing per capita energy demand by 25% through energy conservation/ efficiency measures; leading the nation deployment of electric vehicles with 500,000 on the road by 2026 (twice projected amount); making record investments in advanced transportation solutions, including mass transit, electrified bus rapid transit, and bikeways. We can no longer afford to wait—we must lead and make the necessary investments. I intend to leverage my experience in the private sector and at the highest levels of government to enact the most aggressive environmental agenda in Maryland history.
These actions will dramatically improve our air quality, revolutionize our energy sector, and create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. By generating more clean energy in-state, especially from offshore wind and solar, and becoming the national leader in energy efficiency, we will dramatically reduce the impact of dirty-coal generated electricity from upwind states that pollutes our air, makes our kids sick, and increases our healthcare bills.
Making Maryland More Resilient
Maryland communities and natural resources face threats from extreme weather, sea-level rise, and failing infrastructure that could place millions of neighbors at-risk. In recent years, we’ve seen more powerful storms and flash flooding affect communities across the state. My administration will prioritize making communities more resilient through cutting-edge investments in natural defenses, such as living shorelines, oyster reefs, reforestation, and wetland restoration. In addition, we will build or rebuild all infrastructure based upon the best climate science to ensure that we are making communities safer and not putting Marylanders in harm’s way.
Restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its Tributaries
To clean up the Chesapeake Bay, we must redouble our efforts to reduce pollution in the upstream tributaries —from the Patapsco and the Potomac to the Choptank and the Nanticoke. Maryland’s natural resources are too important to our healthy, our economy, and our quality of life. In order to promote the health of the Bay, which generates billions of dollars of economic benefit each year, we will expand our partnerships with other states in the watershed and dramatically reduce the nutrients, sediment, and toxic chemical, and other runoff pollution threatening it.
Expanding the Outdoor Economy
Maryland’s outdoor economy generates more than $14 billion in consumer spending and accounts for more than 109,000 jobs. In order to protect and grow this vital segment of Maryland’s economy, we are going to increase our state’s commitment to restoring, connecting, and preserving land for outdoor recreation use by the public. For every dollar that we spend on recreational amenities and land conservation, we will profit from increased spending on tourism, recreation, and retail. Together, we’re going to grow our outdoor economy by making Maryland the best place to go hiking, camping, paddling, biking, birding, fishing, and hunting east of the Mississippi.
Saving Maryland’s Wildlife
From majestic blue crabs and rockfish to soaring osprey and waterfowl, Maryland is blessed with some of the most amazing wildlife in our nation. As Governor, I will lead a state-wide initiative to recover the full diversity of Maryland’s fish and wildlife resources by restoring important habitat across Maryland and updating our laws to encourage more collaborative and proactive conservation measures. Right now, more than 600 wildlife species are on our state’s list of “species of greatest conservation need,” as outlined in our State Wildlife Action Plan. I am committed to funding implementation of the state wildlife action plan to ensure that wildlife becomes more common, at-risk species are conserved, and no species become endangered on my watch.
Creating 250,000 Well-Paying Private Sector Jobs
Too many Maryland families are struggling to make ends meet and haven’t had a raise in years, as the cost of everything else increases. The truth is that Maryland would have the worst unemployment in the nation if it wasn’t for the hundreds of thousands of federal jobs that the Trump Administration continues to threaten. We simply must strengthen and grow our private sector economy.
My administration will create 250,000 well-paying jobs for the future—employment that won’t be outsourced or automated. To accomplish this, we need to grow Maryland’s innovation economy, encourage tech transfer from major research hubs, ensure the resources to start a business are available in every corner of the state, link employers with skilled workers, and ensure 21st century infrastructure.
Supporting Small Businesses
Small businesses employ more than half of all private sector workers in Maryland, yet our state remains one of the toughest places to start and grow a business in the nation. As entrepreneurship continues to decline across the country, we must support our state’s small business owners and become a more attractive place to do business than our neighboring states. My administration will improve the predictability of permitting processes, eliminate redundant regulations and antiquated fees, expand access to capital, and ensure Maryland takes full advantage of the available federal funding to support small businesses. We have the second most educated workforce in the nation and thousands of entrepreneurs trying to contribute to the economy—all we need is a government that supports small businesses to unlock their potential.
The average Maryland commuter spent 74 hours in traffic last year at a cost of $1,495 in lost wages and wasted gas. Every minute that Marylanders are stuck on the Beltway, 270, 695, 95, 295, or on 50 is time we’re not with our families or being productive. Adding a few high-priced express lanes that only benefit the few, while the rest of us face massive construction delays in the short-term is not the solution. We need to commit to improving our road system through basic repairs, better interchanges and strategic changes like reversible lands. We also must invest in mass transit, like the Red Line in Baltimore and upgrading the Metro; improving bus rapid-transit; advancing high-speed rail and the hyperloop; developing the best bike trail network in the nation; prioritizing transit-oriented design and advocating for more rational land use decisions; and pioneering other 21st century traffic solutions that grow our economy.
Providing Universal Broadband Access
Fast, affordable broadband is critical to the success of every Maryland family and their community. In a highly connected world, access to the internet remains the foundation of any economic development strategy. Unfortunately, in rural areas from the corner of Garrett County to the southern tip of the Eastern shore, prohibitively high costs leave nearly 1 in 12 Maryland residents without access to high-speed internet. As businesses, schools, governments, and families increasingly leverage online networks to reach their communities, customers, and constituents, we must ensure every Marylander can connect to the information superhighway.