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 three and 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, affordable 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
Thoughts and prayers are not enough to end the bloodshed. In Baltimore, for the past four years, there has been a murder nearly every day. 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.
At the same time, we must prevent gun violence at its source by preventing guns from ending up in the wrong hands. We must institute more comprehensive background checks, improve reporting systems and database interoperability, require licensing and insurance, eliminate the gun show loophole, require potential purchasers to complete gun safety or hunter education courses before purchases, and strengthen Red Flag laws. We must ban weapons of war. We must prohibit perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalkers from being able to own or purchase guns. We must restart Baltimore’s gun buyback program, ban bump stocks, expand Operation Safe Streets, fully fund Operation Safe Kids, and de-politicize the handgun review board. Given that more than 50% of the guns used in crimes in Maryland were either purchased out of state or transported illegally into Maryland, I will also lead a regional effort to eliminate the illegal transport and sale of guns.
No child should grow up in a neighborhood 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.
Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights
Too many women in Maryland still lack access to the healthcare they need and deserve. They deserve a governor who will fight for women’s health, for reproductive rights, for family leave, for maternal rights, and against workplace discrimination. They deserve a governor who will provide them with more choices, not fewer. They deserve a governor who will push back on President Trump’s efforts to limit women’s access to health services, preventive screens, contraception, abortion, and affordable insurance. Most of all, they deserve a governor who cares about the health and lives of women.
The truth is the reproductive rights of every woman in Maryland are under threat now more than ever because of who controls Washington, the court system, and our Governor’s Mansion. As governor, my administration will guarantee every woman’s right to control decisions about her own body and every family’s right to adequately plan and care for their children. I envision a healthcare system in Maryland where every woman, regardless of her race, socioeconomic status, or zip code can easily access affordable reproductive care– including regular checkups, her prefered form of contraception, abortion services, maternity healthcare professionals, counseling, and other reproductive health services.
Providing access to reproductive care
Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and the majority of these pregnancies are concentrated among women of lower socioeconomic status. An unacceptable 24% of Maryland women today still live in a county without a reproductive health clinic. Women’s reproductive health is simply more expensive than men’s, so the state must help address the systemic inequities this differential has created by protecting and promoting women’s access to reproductive care.
Investments in women’s reproductive health are proven to save taxpayer dollars in the long-run. Better access to contraception, family planning, and reproductive health services reduces rates of unexpected pregnancies, especially among teenagers – giving women, and particularly women from historically marginalized communities – equal access to education and economic opportunity.
As Governor, I will:
- Expand the number of reproductive healthcare clinics in Maryland and engage in a comprehensive mapping of the current reproductive healthcare landscape to ensure every woman in Maryland can easily reach one of these locations. This mapping process, overseen by the Maryland Department of Health, will engage epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland College Park, and other top research institutions throughout the state. The results of this publicly funded study will help state and local policymakers expand access to contraception and reproductive health services in communities around the state. No woman should have to travel more than 30 minutes to receive this critical care.
- Declare all health care facilities sanctuary spaces, particularly reproductive health care clinics. As an immigrant, I’m deeply concerned about the chilling effect the current political climate has had on too many Maryland residents, including undocumented residents’ access to adequate health care and other state services. Healthcare is a human right and real access means exercising that right without fear of harm. My administration would prevent federal authorities from engaging in deportation or detainment efforts at all reproductive health care facilities.
- Use legislative action to empower law enforcement to prevent violence and disperse protesters who harass and intimidate patients outside of reproductive health clinics. These laws would mimic Massachusetts’ Act to Promote Public Safety and Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities, which was passed to improve public safety after the Supreme Court upheld the right to protest outside reproductive health clinics.
- Establish a fund to invest additional resources into the reproductive health of historically marginalized and underserved populations in Maryland – particularly in rural areas and Baltimore City. Using state, local, and philanthropic dollars, this initiative would first assess and identify the needs of these communities and then provide direct assistance to improve access to quality care. Coordinated with the Maryland Department of Health, this effort would also examine ways to make contraception, including IUDs, free for anyone who currently cannot afford access.
- Mandate all publicly funded colleges and universities offer 24/7 access to emergency contraception in on-campus health care facilities. The state, local governments, and the administrations of Maryland’s colleges and universities should work together to set aside additional resources to ensure existing healthcare facilities offer reproductive health services and disseminate information about reproductive health on campuses.
- Invest in public transportation, so every woman and family can easily access reproductive health care. For one quarter of Maryland women, reaching a reproductive health clinic means traveling outside of their county. This lack of access most severely affects women living in historically marginalized communities like West Baltimore, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, where decades of political neglect have left residents without adequate infrastructure or public transit. Investing in key projects like the Red Line is about more than just the economy: it is about attacking the foundations of the inequity that plagues our state.
Without state and local support for family planning and reproductive health services, the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion would be 25% higher in Maryland, and the teen pregnancy rate would be 34% higher. It’s time for bold action to support women’s right to control their bodies and to improve the health of our communities.
Spreading accurate information about reproductive health
Today, right-wing groups often disseminate inaccurate and misleading information about reproductive health. I believe in medical science, and I think it’s time to declare that enough is enough. Maryland must standardize sexual education in schools and ensure advice provided about reproductive health comes from medical professionals who prioritize health over their political agenda.
- Strictly regulate the information provided by Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) in Maryland and their advertising channels. While not always the case, CPCs are often run by anti-choice groups who spread disinformation about reproductive health. They need oversight and regulation to ensure that clients receive medically-sound reproductive health services and accurate information about contraception. Maryland should impose a mandate similar to the ordinances proposed in Hartford, Connecticut, where the state’s 40+ CPCs are required to disclose the medical credentials of their staff, are banned from using misleading advertising, and are required to accurately inform clients about contraception and abortion services. I would also require all CPCs to register with the Maryland Department of Health to ensure compliance. As the Supreme Court considers NIFLA v. Becerra, we must stop the dissemination of lies and dangerous misinformation about reproductive health in Maryland.
- Review existing laws to ensure all of Maryland’s students receive medically sound, age-appropriate instruction about contraception, family planning, and reproductive health. We must close any legislative loopholes and take aggressive action against the dissemination of lies about reproductive health. Schools must prepare our kids for life beyond a classroom, and standardized, medically-accurate sex education is an essential part of their learning process. This education is also essential for promoting the healthy norms around consent and gender roles, which in turn lowers rates of sexual violence. See my plan to combat sexual violence and workplace harassment here for more information.
Fighting discrimination in the workplace and guaranteeing family leave
- Amend the Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities due to Pregnancy Act to ensure every pregnant employee in Maryland receives reasonable accommodations at work with HB 1109. No woman should be forced to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy; every pregnant employee in need of accommodation should have access to those accommodations, not just those who require support as a result of a complication during their pregnancy.
- Protect the reproductive rights of low-wage workers by organizing a commission with labor unions, healthcare professionals, community activists, working mothers and fathers, and other stakeholders to recommend specific avenues and policies to protect the rights of low-wage women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or have recently given birth to a child.
- Provide 3 months of paid family leave for every Maryland resident at a minimum of 70% of their weekly income.
- Introduce legislation to ensure a pregnant employee cannot be forced by her employer to take leave, particularly when a reasonable accommodation could be provided for her. Women should control when they want to take family leave, so parents can adequately plan how to best care for their children ahead of time.
I reject the notion that any of these policies cause undue hardship to employers, since family leave and other maternal care policies have been proven to: (1) improve employee loyalty and productivity, which increases businesses’ overall capacity and substantially cuts recruiting and retraining costs, (2) reduce post-neonatal mortality for women, (3) encourage a closer bond between fathers and their children, (4) significantly decrease the gender wage gap, and (5) build stronger family ties and a more balanced work lifestyle.
Improving maternal healthcare across the state
More women die of pregnancy-related complications in the United States than in any other developed country in the world, and the U.S. is one of a handful of nations where the rate of maternal mortality is actually rising. This is unacceptable. Access to quality infant and maternal care remains essential for healthy mothers, babies, and families in Maryland. Reducing morbidity and mortality rates for infants and mothers will be a top priority as Governor.
The solutions to these challenges requires an intersectional approach to public policy that recognizes systemic inequities and includes family planning, preconception care, 24/7 access to medical professionals during pregnancy and childbirth, and care during the postpartum period.
The risk of dying should not be a factor when deciding whether to have children in Maryland, and all of Maryland’s children deserve the best possible start at life.
As Governor, I will do the following to address this issue in Maryland:
- Better publicize loan repayment programs and other efforts to attract ob-gyns to Maryland, especially to areas facing a shortage of healthcare providers.
- Promote sustainable, collaborative practice models with certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to help alleviate provider shortages across the state.
- Develop new efforts to encourage and incentivize Maryland hospitals to reinvest in their maternity units while also investing in medical initiatives aimed at the urgent and specific needs of Maryland's rural communities and of Baltimore's poorest communities.
- Organize a task force of Maryland hospital officials and medical research institutions to develop a standard approach for managing obstetric emergencies, identifying pregnancy complications, and promoting "best practices" in maternal care.
- Improve data collection and analysis of maternal deaths and complications during birth (currently there is insufficient data regarding maternal deaths, including no federal reporting requirements).
- Ensure that maternal health considerations are part of other state-wide programs that focus on preventative healthcare, healthy lifestyle promotion, and management of pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that make childbirth more dangerous for women.
- Promote programs like Sleep Safe (run by the Baltimore City Health Department), which raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome and sleep-related infant deaths by providing low-income families in Baltimore with free cribs.
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
Climate change threatens our entire way of life in Maryland. Passively following other states is simply not good enough. I was proud to be part of the team at the U.S. Department of State that made climate change a top diplomatic priority. I saw firsthand the power of American leadership to fight climate change as Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry kept countries, like China, India, and Brazil, at the table during the Copenhagen and Paris Climate Summits. While the Trump administration abdicates our nation’s role as a leader on the world stage, progressive states like Maryland must step up and carry the mantle of leadership on climate action. Governor Hogan’s administration has been characterized by ambivalence and inconsistency. Climate change is by far the most serious threat facing Maryland today. We must dramatically cut our greenhouse gas emissions and secure the clean-energy future that we so desperately need. To do so, Maryland must (1) commit to true 50% clean energy targets by 2026 (end of my second term) and 100% clean energy goal by 2035, (2) create 80,000 clean energy jobs, (3) make Maryland more resilient to climate impacts, and (4) build a 21st Century transportation system. We will also work closely with our neighboring states to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and accelerate the Transportation Climate Initiative.
Achieving 50% Clean Energy by 2026 and 100% by 2035
As Governor, I am committed to making Maryland the national leader in clean energy and will join with New Jersey to adopt the goal of 100% clean energy. This rapid transition towards 100% clean energy can be a foundation of a more inclusive economy. Wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency are the future of Maryland’s energy economy. Offshore wind, in particular, represents the greatest opportunity for the massive de-carbonization of Maryland’s energy system with the newest turbines having the capacity to each power 16,000 homes. The actions below, plus my transportation initiatives, will allow Maryland to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the end of my second term.
To achieve 50% clean energy by 2026 (end of my second term), my administration will be entirely focused on maximizing in-state clean energy generation, including targets of:
- 25%+ from offshore wind: 2,870+ megawatts of offshore wind off the Atlantic coast by 2026 (including 370 MW from the Skipjack and US Wind projects);
- 12.5%+ from solar: 2,750+ megawatts of additional solar covering every possible rooftop, parking lot, landfill, and undevelopable brownfield;
- 7.5%+ from hydroelectric, biomass, land-based wind (exclude waste incineration);
- And displacing 25%+ of current energy usage through:
- geothermal and solar hot to reduce space heating/cooling and water heating for schools, offices, and homes;
- energy efficiency investments with extra attention to building tightening, insulation, lighting, and efficient appliances.
We will also lead the effort to modernize our electrical grid, pioneer microgrids, and make transmission systems smarter. This will reduce line losses, better integrate clean energy, facilitate storage solutions, improve reliability, and increase security. A smarter grid will provide valuable real time data to both customers and utilities.
Creating 80,000 Clean Energy Jobs
As we’re deploying clean energy, we will work to ensure that we capture the operations, construction, manufacturing, and innovation jobs here in Maryland. By capturing a first mover advantage, we will secure more jobs locally and avoid importing products from other states and abroad. At a time when wages are down for many Marylanders, we can create 45,000 well-paying jobs in the energy efficiency sector and we will work with the building trades and local community colleges to ensure that local workers are prepared to benefit from these opportunities. We will make sure that low-income communities that stand to gain the most from the energy savings and reduced pollution also benefit from the job creation.
Our clean energy economy strategy will play a critical role in our efforts to build a more inclusive economy in Maryland capable of attacking the systemic wealth inequality that plagues America. With strategic training initiatives, hiring incentives, and state supports for minority entrepreneurs, the growth of the renewable energy industry in Maryland could provide well-paying, 21st century jobs to the Maryland residents who need them most, especially in urban centers, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore where the jobs are needed the most.
We will also help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to higher paying jobs. I have already committed to making all workforce development and adult education programs at community colleges completely free for all Maryland residents — and I would make it a priority to help retrain any workers in the various parts of the fossil fuel industry. Further, I’ll fight to ensure that we secure all federal resources possible and will continue to fight against the Administration’s attempts to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission and fight for Congressional passage of the federal RECLAIM Act.
Making Maryland More Resilient
As a low-lying coastal state, Maryland is the third most vulnerable state in the nation to climate impacts, after Alaska and Florida, as local communities and natural resources face threats from extreme weather, sea-level rise, and failing infrastructure that could place millions of Marylanders at risk. Greater levels of precipitation and sea-level rise projects of more than two feet threaten to undo much of the progress towards restoring the Bay as greater levels of precipitation bring torrents of nutrients and sediment into its tributaries. Climate impacts will also fundamentally alter agricultural growing seasons, exacerbate public health threats facing environmental justice communities, and introduce invasive species and disease that could devastate native wildlife and plant populations.
This isn’t some far off projection. It’s happening right now. We’ve lived through more frequent and powerful hurricanes, and we’ve experienced flash flooding in Maryland communities from Salisbury and Baltimore to Ellicott City and Bowling Green. We must take steps immediately to protect communities that are already experiencing climate impacts of climate change.
As Governor, I will lead an unpreceded effort to make Maryland more resilient to all climate impacts—Maryland Strong. I will lead the charge to address extreme weather, sea-level rise, and other impacts already devastating Maryland communities. I would instruct all state agencies to ensure that all projects are designed to be climate resilient by not locating facilities in floodplains, elevating buildings, utility infrastructure, and transportation projects to reduce threats from sea-level rise, and using more storm-resistant building materials. We will also begin an unprecedented investment in natural defenses, including wetlands, forested and vegetated buffers, sand dunes, living shorelines, oyster reefs, and other natural systems. We will ensure that local governments have high-resolution topographic data for coastal counties and updated floodplain maps to make the best land use decisions. We will work with cities to reduce urban heat island effects and ensure sufficient cooling station infrastructure for children and seniors to reduce mortality threats from high heat days. Finally, I would initiate and support efforts to relocate and resettle residents with homes and livelihoods threatened by sea-level rise.
Building a 21st Century Transportation System
Transportation, not power plants, is the largest source of carbon pollution in Maryland and we must reduce our emissions by at least 40% in the next eight years. Some of this will come from more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles and light duty trucks, assuming we defeat President Trump and Scott Pruitt’s attacks on vehicle emission standards. But we must make significant strategic investments in Maryland’s transportation system, which is essential to both our economic vitality and fighting climate change.
The state desperately needs a more reliable, resilient, safe, and cleaner transportation system that ensures that people can get to work and school efficiently. My administration will be committed to ensuring that every Marylander regardless of income or zip code has true access to multiple safe and healthy transportation options. The segregation of housing and jobs—combined with the lack of transportation options to cross that chasm—prevents hundreds of thousands of Marylanders from fulfilling their economic potential and contributes millions of unnecessary carbon pollution. Our 1950s transportation system a root cause of poverty, crime, air pollution, and the lack of opportunity and upward mobility.
Under my administration, equitable transportation solutions will be at the heart of my economic development, public safety, environmental, and public health agendas. I want Maryland to lead the nation in innovative multi-modal transportation solutions, not continue with the stigma of one of the most congested states in the nation. By the end of my first term, I want to ensure that transit, biking, and walking are greater budgetary and policy priorities than passenger vehicles.
We can do so by:
- Completing key transit projects, like the Red Line (rather than cutting corners with inferior substitutes like the BaltimoreLink), as part of a record investment in advanced transportation solutions, including mass transit, electrified bus rapid transit, and bikeways.
- Aggressively encouraging mode shifts to public transit by focusing on improving safety, increasing speed/efficiency of alternatives, enhancing ease of access, and reducing cost. The decision to use transit should not come at the expense of hours of meandering routes and multiple connections.
- Making safe, complete streets the model statewide, including incentivizing the separated bike lanes and reallocating road space for other modes of transportation.
- Connecting more people to transit options through better integration of the system with bikes, buses, or peer-to-peer ride sharing.
- Leading the nation in the deployment of electric vehicles by getting 500,000 EVs on Maryland roads by 2026 and setting the standard for smart, shared, electrified, autonomous vehicle policy.
Saving the Chesapeake Bay and its Tributaries
The Chesapeake Bay is our state’s most precious natural resource and the world’s most important estuary. It is a place of natural beauty, economic importance, family recreation, and ecological diversity. We are seeing some progress in the restoration of the Bay as indicated by improving populations of oysters, blue crabs, and rockfish, as well as returning seagrasses. Unfortunately, Maryland missed some of its 2016 pollution-reduction goals and continues to underinvest in key areas. Further, increasing pollution from headwaters states, especially Pennsylvania, threaten to undo recent progress, which will be exacerbated by greater levels of precipitation flushing more nutrients off the landscape into adjacent waterways.
As Governor, I will do all I can to protect it from pollution and the effects of climate change. We must focus upstream and reduce pollution coming from all of the tributaries—from the Potomac and the Patapsco to the Choptank and the Nanticoke—feeding into the Bay. We must also integrate climate change impacts into all projects and programs.
Here are my priorities for the Bay:
- Investing in Natural Systems: I will fully fund programs for oyster restoration, reforestation, revegetating riparian buffers, wetland restoration, and cover crops all of which improve water quality and improve resilience of the ecosystem.
- Implementing the Phosphorus Management Tool: PMT is an enormous opportunity to change the trajectory of the Bay by focusing our efforts on the places where it will have the greatest impact. I will get implementation back on track.
- Improving Agricultural Practices: In addition to improving analytic tools, we must do a better job leveraging the wide array of federal, state, and local programs designed to reduce nutrient pollution. From improved manure management and cover crops to precision nutrient application and advanced irrigation solutions, there are series of win-win opportunities that reduce costs and pollution.
- Reducing pollution from Septic Tanks and Seepage Pits: We must continue to prioritize water infrastructure projects that reduce pollution by connecting homes with septic systems to central sewer systems and finalizing the septic implementation strategy. And we must continue to encourage green infrastructure solutions that reduces runoff pollution from impervious surfaces, like roads and parking lots.
- Addressing Upstream Threats: As we’re cleaning up our own house, we must push Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia to fulfill their obligations to reduce nutrients, sediment, and toxics. We must especially resolve the growing crisis at the Conowingo Dam, which traps sediment coming from the Bay’s largest tributary, the Susquehanna River, but is reaching capacity and flooding the Bay with sediment during severe storm events. We must require the owner, Exelon, to address downstream water quality and work collaboratively with Governor Wolf to reduce pollution entering Pennsylvania’s waterways.
Securing Environmental Justice for Vulnerable Communities
Like so many other issues under the current administration, Maryland’s low income communities and communities of color have had little support from the state in their efforts to protect and improve the environment. Baltimore in particular has suffered from this trend, and the cost has been the lives of innocent Marylanders. In addition to investments in mass transportation, I intended to immediately address environmental justice issues in our state during my first year as Governor:
- Reducing Air Pollution: Baltimore has the highest rate of air pollution-related deaths of any large city in the country. Simply put we are importing dirty energy and exporting dollars—it makes no sense. Further, large industrial facilities are a significant source of toxic pollution in Maryland, for example, we must not lose sight of the fact that a large portion of the pollution in the state comes from various small, individual sources (gas stations, dry cleaners, auto repair shops etc.). These sources may cause relatively little pollution individually, but a massive amount collectively, and, when combined with the massive air pollution coming from upwind Midwestern states, are contributing to Maryland having the highest air pollution-related death rate of any state in the country. As Governor, I would enthusiastically direct Maryland’s Department of the Environment to consider cumulative impacts when issuing permits, and would seek additional statutory authority from the General Assembly.
- Guaranteeing Clean Water: The underlying problems of Flint, Michigan’s toxic water crisis also affect too many Maryland communities. We must exceed the standards established under the Safe Water Drinking Act, by investing in quality water and sewage systems, as well as source water protection—all of which are vital to the safety and public health of the people of Maryland.
- Reducing Lead Poisoning and Other Toxic Pollution: No child’s future should be jeopardized because of lead poisoning in homes or our water supply. I support the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and the Baltimore City Health Department’s efforts to reduce lead poisoning in the most severely affected areas of our state. Through rigorous testing of water supplies and acute focus on house painted before 1978, we can ensure a brighter future for thousands of Maryland children. Further, we must expand the authorities of MDE to regulate and ban unsafe chemicals to the maximum extent allowable under federal law.
- Incorporating Climate Justice into Decision-Making: Too little environmental policymaking focuses on the disproportionate impact of climate change on communities of color. In designing solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change on urban communities, low-income communities, and communities of color, we must first engage communities in an honest assessment of their needs, rather than just imposing top-down solutions. Therefore, one of my environmental priorities will be launch the largest environmental justice and climate justice campaign in the nation by significantly strengthening the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Education, Communication, and Outreach working group to elevate conversations about the impacts of climate change and turn these conversations into high-impact policy changes. I also recognize that in many circumstances the most disadvantaged communities in Maryland are also the most dependent on fossil fuels, so I will work with these communities to prioritize energy efficiency investments that reduce costs and subsidize clean energy projects so the switch to zero-emission energy maximizes the health benefits and does not cause any financial hardships.
- Increasing Recycling to Reduce Pollution and Create Jobs: About 20% of Baltimore’s residential trash is recycled, which is extremely low compared to the 35% national average for cities. In Baltimore, I believe in supporting and replicating social enterprises already operating in the city. These include deconstruction and resale operations such as the Loading Dock, Second Chance and Humanim, which are models for reuse and employment of hundreds of Baltimore residents. I hope to require in-city processing of recyclables and compostables to keep jobs in the city and get better market prices for these materials once processed. I also support reducing the use of hard to recycle products such as Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, and straws that pollute our environment, as well as adopting “pay-as-you throw” systems for charging households for collection based on the amount of garbage set out each week. Under this “unit pricing” garbage collection system, residents are offered recycling collection for free, provided free large, wheeled recycling carts to households, and only pay for trash put out (alternatively incentive based programs like RecycleBank have also proven effective).
Conserving Maryland’s Treasured Landscapes
Maryland’s natural beauty and ecological integrity are threatened by scattershot housing, commercial, and energy development that crisscrosses our state. On the Eastern Shore, for example, I’ve heard from farmers, residents, and conservation groups, who have expressed significant concern over the expansion of residential and commercial areas. My administration will reinvest in partnerships between state and local government to protect our rural areas and strengthen the role of the Maryland Department of Planning. In Western Maryland, fears of energy development decimating communities continue, as the State refuses to exercise any oversight of energy projects. And suburban counties continue to lose ecologically significant forests as development encroaches further and further out.
As Governor, I will lead an effort to work with local governments to prioritize the conservation of our treasured landscapes through smart growth policies that accelerate economic growth without destroying the character of a region. My administration will:
- Investing in Historic Downtowns and Supporting Infill redevelopment: The state should replicate Delaware’s Downtown Development program and target it at historic communities like Salisbury, Easton, Cambridge, Annapolis, Frederick, Hagerstown, Cumberland, and Oakland. By encouraging the redevelopment and infill development within historic cities with existing infrastructure, we can reduce the pressures on suburban sprawl and the deforestation and wetland loss that has characterized the past half century.
- Reforesting Maryland: We continue to lose forest density in all parts of the state. My administration will strengthen the Forest Conservation Act to protect ecologically significant forests, require the planting of native trees in greater numbers than the trees removed, work with developers to minimize impacts through better site design, and facilitate partnerships with nonprofits to accelerate native tree reforestation efforts.
- Elevating Local Voices in Consideration of Energy Projects: From the Potomac Pipeline in Washington County to the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Calvert County, we are repeatedly seeing local voices silenced in the decision-making process for projects that would fundamentally alter local communities. I will make sure that the state evaluates the cumulative impacts of energy and industrial projects, as well as ensure that local communities have full input into projects.
- Conserving 50% of the Rural Land-base on the Eastern Shore: My administration will fully fund the work of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, promote conservation easements to keep working lands working, and work with local governments to ensure strong agricultural zoning in line with the recommendations of leading nonprofits, including the local land conservancies.
- Reducing Impacts from Industrial Agricultural Facilities: We must better understand the air and other health impacts of industrial facilities by requiring greater monitoring and transparency, as proposed in legislation such as the Community Healthy Air Act.
Creating the Strongest Outdoor Economy on the East Coast
Tourism is the second largest sector of Maryland’s economy. From the Appalachian Mountains and inland waterways to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast, we have natural assets that are the envy of other states. We need to continue growing our outdoor economy by making Maryland the best place to go hiking, camping, paddling, biking, birding, fishing, and hunting anywhere east of the Mississippi. More than half of all Marylanders participate in the outdoor economy every year, which sustains more than 100,000 jobs around the state and generates $14 billion in annual economic benefits.
To grow the outdoor economy, my administration will prioritize:
- Investing in Recreational Access and Conservation: We must increase funding for amenities like hiking and biking trails, fishing piers, boat launches, observation blinds, campgrounds, and interpretive signage. We must also align the priorities of our habitat restoration, corridor connectivity, and land preservation strategies programs with our outdoor economy strategy.
- Marketing our Natural Resources and Heritage: There is no reason why Americans mostly think of West Virginia and Colorado when they’re consider outdoor travel destinations. We must integrate these marketing efforts with efforts to promote heritage tourism, which when combined offers a diversity of opportunities that are attractive for longer visits. We simply must stop selling ourselves short and market our assets to drive visits.
- Increasing Wildlife Populations: Part of growing our outdoor economy also means saving our state’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 statewide 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.