Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties in Southern Maryland—and the military installations in the region—form an important economic engine in our state. From the outermost edges of the D.C. suburbs to the tip of Point Lookout State Park on the Chesapeake Bay, no region better captures Maryland’s full diversity and historic identity. Yet too many Marylanders living in this area still struggle to make ends meet. Thousands of commute hours up highways 210 and 301 to D.C. or Baltimore for work every single day, instead of being able to find jobs near their homes. Hundreds more struggle to start and grow the small businesses at the core of our state’s economy. Governor Hogan has failed to invest in Southern Maryland, and the cost of his inaction has been the economic underperformance of a region that should be driving our state’s economic future.
I’ve proposed making the following strategic investments to set Southern Maryland on a trajectory towards inclusive economic and educational prosperity. Together, my administration, local officials, businesses, and residents will create thousands of jobs that do not require a commute. We will ensure innovation and entrepreneurship, combined with 21st century transit options, supports the growth and success of small businesses. We will fight to ensure urban sprawl and vacation homes do not crowd out local residents, and I personally guarantee that my administration will stop big corporations from damaging Southern Maryland’s treasured natural resources.
To achieve these aims, I have proposed the following steps:
(1) Leverage Military Installations to Create Local Jobs
(2) Provide Universally Accessible Healthcare Options
(3) Protect the Chesapeake and its Tributaries
(4) Invest in Transportation Solutions & Reduce Commute Times
(5) Conserve Treasured Landscapes & Develop the Outdoor Economy
1. Leverage Military Installations to Create Local Jobs
Southern Maryland is home to several major military installations—specifically the naval facilities at Indian Head and the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River—which provide the region with unprecedented local engineering and technical talent. And under the federal Base Realignment and Closure Plan (BRAC), the size of these bases and others in the region will continue to grow in the coming years. Employment opportunities on military bases offer some of the best training and workforce development programs in our state and help bring thousands of local jobs to the communities who need them most, as well as attract highly talented workers who could drive private sector job growth. I propose the State of Maryland take advantage of these assets in Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert County to create more inclusive economic growth by:
- Helping the 40,000 veterans living in Southern Maryland start businesses and find well-paying jobs. The U.S. military provides some of the best technical education and leadership experience in the world. Maryland must provide the thousands of veterans living in these counties with the economic opportunities that will help them stay in the region after leaving military service. This should include venture funding through the Maryland Technology Development Corporation and additional tax advantages for starting a business in Southern Maryland. As entrepreneurship declines across the country, we need to help our veterans lead efforts to reboot our economy.
- Working with the federal government to implement local hiring practices. Graduates of the College of Southern Maryland and St. Mary’s College should be able to take advantage of the employment opportunities at local bases. This helps keep talent and tax dollars in the region. My administration will work with our federal partners to ensure military bases hire directly from job training programs at Southern Maryland’s high schools, community colleges, and traditional four-year institutions that are matched specifically to the needs of the base.
- Financing a start-up incubator targeted at technology transfer from local bases with public private partnerships. Within a 45 minute drive of Charles County, there are 6,000 individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or above in computer science. Between the civilian population and the extensive R&D testing occurring on nearby military installations, Southern Maryland is the perfect location to start and grow new businesses in the commercial drone or information technology space. Any incubator should also offer veterans preference, to help retain regional talent.
- Provide transportation grants for community college students in Southern Maryland. Getting to school affordably can be a major challenge for students in rural areas. And community college students with jobs must be able to continue their studies without breaking the bank or sacrificing their current employment. I will establish a state micro-grant program to lower all community college and continuing education students’ transportation expenses in Southern Maryland, particularly for active duty military members and veterans. This transportation stipend would match any pre-existing federal work-study funds that students currently receive, making a quality higher education affordable for all Marylanders.
2. Provide Universally Accessible Healthcare Options
Part of revitalizing the economy in Southern Maryland, and all rural areas, means ensuring everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare. Without better care, it will be impossible to attract and retain businesses, keep our workforce healthy, and help Marylanders save for retirement.
Opening a full Veterans Affairs facility
Despite the region’s density of veterans, there are a woefully insufficient number of Veterans Affairs facilities in Southern Maryland — including not a single VA medical center. I will use my experience working at the highest levels of the federal government to bring better medical care for veterans to the region. And if the federal government fails to deliver, I will allocate state funding to ensure that we step up to provide the nearly 40,000 veterans living in Southern Maryland with the healthcare services that they have earned. Those who have sacrificed for their country should not need to drive an hour to reach an affordable treatment option.
Improving mobility and access
I believe healthcare is a human right, but too often government fails to provide the adequate public transit infrastructure that people need to reach the doctor or a hospital. When my family immigrated to Maryland, we couldn’t afford a car for several years. If it wasn’t for the buses along Route 40, my dad couldn’t have gotten to his job teaching at Edmonson High. Indeed, for many Marylanders, transit is the gateway to opportunity. Keeping people healthy saves the state money and grows our economy. To improve access to care, my administration will:
- Allocate additional funding for medical facilities to better respond to non-emergency medical requests. So providers can take treatment to patients, rather than placing the burden on patients to reach facilities where they can receive care.
- Invest in community health workers, school-based health centers, mobile integrated health units, and other non-traditional providers to support and teach patients in medically underserved areas, which could reduce Medicare costs by more than 25%, freeing up additional funding to invest in healthcare mobility solutions like better transit and telemedicine.
Cutting costs, improving access and expanding coverage
1 in 10 Marylanders under 65 living in Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties do not have health insurance. No one should be unable to afford care, so I’ve proposed the following to improve access to care.
- Expand Medicare coverage to assisted-living facilities, community-based support initiatives, home-visiting programs, nutritional assis-tance efforts, and other evidence-backed programs that have demonstrated impacts on health and wellbeing in rural areas. Maryland’s Medicare waiver gives our state a unique degree of flexibility to address the medical needs of our rural residents. We need bold progressive leadership to take advantage of this flexibility and improve the delivery of care.
- Develop and implement a state-run public option. 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 universal coverage and afford-ability goals without raising taxes or recklessly dismantling the current healthcare infrastructure.
Confronting the opioid crisis: 3 Steps to fight addiction in rural areas
- Expanding treatment access means ensuring every town and municipality, no matter how small, has temporary addiction treatment clinics run by the State of Maryland and that we start treating the opioid epidemic as the symptom of a public health crisis driven by the disease of addition. To best serve the Maryland communities hit hardest by the opioid crisis, my administration will:
- Expand the continuum of care model pioneered by providers like Walden Behavioral Care and the St. Mary’s County Health Department. Since the 1973, Walden has pioneered addiction treatment options. Every county should have an accredited behavioral health facility that uses their model to treat addiction like a disease.
- Ensure every Marylander has 24/7 access to addiction treatment options including on-demand services and long-term care. In rural areas, this means investing in mobile treatment options, like vans, that can dispense important medications like buprenorphine to improve treatment access in regions struggling with adequate access to public transit. I want to get medication as quickly and efficiently as possible into the communities that need it the most.
- 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.
- Expanding LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program) — an initiative that pushes drug offenders into treatment programs rather than jails — from Baltimore City to the entire state, including in Southern Maryland.
- Support legislation like the 2016 Justice Reinvestment Act, which diverted Marylanders from prison to treatment services and re-invested the savings generated by this initiative back into in fighting the opioid crisis.
- Take immediate lifesaving action by expanding access to naloxone, the over-dose reversal agent, to every home in Southern Maryland and expanding the Overdose Survivor’s Outreach Program to every hospital facility in the Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s. Everyone should be able to access this life saving drug, and every patient struggling with the disease of addiction who walks through the doors of a hospital should receive specialized attention from navigators who can help them access treatment options – rather than return to their community without additional support.
- Long-term prevention strategies must address what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton 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.
Improving rural healthcare infrastructure
33% of rural Americans live in “health professional shortage areas,” and nearly 82% of rural counties are classified as “medically underserved areas.” To address this issue, Maryland must:
- Invest in rural public transportation, so patients can easily reach treatment facilities.
- Offer tax incentives to healthcare professionals (including nurses) willing to work in underserved areas.
- Re-invest in rural hospitals with savings generated from overdose prevention efforts.
- Open additional rural clinics with fewer advanced capabilities, but offer expanded access to basic care, which can utilize telemedicine options for specialist services.
- Invest in state-run, community-based care and home-visiting programs in rural areas using funds allocated to Maryland through the Affordable Care Act — in line with the original recommendations by the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services.
3. Protect 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, Patapsco, and Patuxent, to the Wicomico, Choptank and 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.
- Support Oyster Farming: I have met with oyster farmers from Hollywood to Orchard Point to discuss the ways that the state can support this industry, since the decline in wild oyster populations due to pollution and climate change cost Maryland and Virginia a combined $4 billion. Virginia remedied this issue by supporting oyster farmers and other sustainable oyster-farming practices in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland has been slow to support and adopt a similar approach to improving the Bay’s water quality, while taking
advantage of the economic opportunity presented by this growing industry in Southern Maryland. I will reform the inefficient leasing and permitting process that currently impedes the success of entrepreneurs attempting to enter the market. I further support piloting a rotational harvesting plan to help watermen maintain their way of life, catalyze economic growth, and improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.
4. Invest in Transportation Solutions & Reduce Commute Times
Maryland has the worst commute times in the nation. Southern Marylanders in particular experience some of the state’s most painful congestion on highways 301, 210, and even 4. Without “smart growth” planning policies and investments in mass transit, traffic across Southern Maryland will only get worse. Traffic already costs Marylanders $1,500 in lost wages and wasted gas each year. While we work to expand employment opportunities in Southern Maryland, we must also invest in a desperately needed public transportation system that is reliable, resilient, safe, and clean, so everyone can get to work and school on time.
My administration is committed to:
- Funding the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Alternatives Report, with preference for the light rail and rapid busing options being explored as solutions along US 301.
- Re-committing to “Smart Growth” policy that balances environmental and agricultural concerns with the needs of growing cities and towns like La Plata and St. Mary’s City. As Governor, I promise to collaborate with local residents when considering all growth and transit policy in the region.
- Improving transportation funding by expanding its use of State Revolving Funds to invest much more heavily in mass transit and other strategic investments. Allocating funds through revolving funds ensures an endless supply of financing for critical infrastructure projects, most of which have a predictable return on investment and help grow the economy and create jobs, while freeing up funds from the General Fund to pay for other conservation, education, or environmental programs and initiatives.
5. Conserve Treasured Landscapes & Grow the Outdoor Economy
Agriculture and tourism are the first and second largest sectors of Maryland’s economy, and Southern Maryland’s natural assets represent the best our state has to offer. From Calvert Cliffs and Point Lookout to Mallows Bay and St. Mary’s River State Park, Southern Maryland’s density of State Parks, State Forests, and State Wildlife Management Areas should be the envy of counties across the state. We need to continue growing our outdoor economy by supporting agriculture and making the region 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.
I am committed to the following:
- Elevating Local Voices in Consideration of Energy Projects. As the fight over the Cove Point facility expansion in Calvert County and the Compressor Station in Charles County have demonstrated, 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, and ensure that local communities have full input into projects.
- Investing in historic downtowns and support infill redevelopment. The State should replicate Delaware’s Downtown Development program, targeting communities like historic St. Mary’s, Solomons, Leonardtown, Chesapeake Beach, and La Plata. By encouraging the redevelopment and infilling development within towns and 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.
- Conserving 50% of the rural land-base in Southern Maryland. 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.
- 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 considering 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 must promote regional assets like the historic downtowns, Calvert Marine Museum, the Patuxent River Air Museum, the Patuxent Wine Trail, and some many other regional gems. We simply must stop selling ourselves short and market our assets to drive visits, particularly leveraging the proximity of the Washington D.C. market.
- 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.