Do you support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education? Are you committed to funding associated reforms, and if so, how?
Barnes: Yes, I support these findings and I am committed to its funding. We should fund it through common sense revenue measures such as closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring, regardless of the outcome of the constitutional amendment, the provision of a lockbox for gaining revenue to put towards public education.
Is Maryland’s transportation spending appropriately balanced between roads and transit? Does the state have the resources to meet its transportation needs? With the cancellation of the Red Line and the advent of BaltimoreLink, is the Baltimore region adequately served by transit?
Barnes: No, the Baltimore region and the state as a whole is not adequately served by transit. We need to revive the Red Line and push for completion of the Green Line and Purple Line. Our limited transportation dollars should be focused on these public transit projects.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Barnes: Yes, I support this.
At a time when the federal government’s commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, what new steps should Maryland take to protect this resource?
Barnes: We need commit to backfilling any funding cuts at the federal level with state dollars. Additionally, we need to update and strengthen Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act, as outlined in legislation proposed last session.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Barnes: We took positive steps last session to shore up the Affordable Care Act at the state level, by introducing two major pieces of legislation. One to support the individual insurance market through a reinsurance program, and the other to create a prescription drug commission that would advise the General Assembly on how to limit exorbitant drug price increases. However, these measures aren’t enough. To truly give all Marylander’s the health care they need, we must do more to move towards universal single-payer health care.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Barnes: Education is the key to combatting crime. We need to invest in funding full implementation of the Kirwin Commission’s recommendations and quickly ramp up to the $400 million goal under the Knott legislation for school construction. The state has invested in Baltimore City school construction in an unprecedented way, and we need to keep that commitment. We also need to continue to address the demand for drug use by pushing rehabilitation and drug diversion programs.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Barnes: I think Maryland’s business climate is strong. We need to close corporate tax loopholes to help small businesses compete against large, multi-national corporations. I also support increased funding for MedCo and TedCo to help support start ups and small businesses. Finally, fostering not only a first rate public education system, but also a top-tier higher education system will continue to attract businesses and ensure we have the workforce necessary to meet the demands of the 21st century.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Barnes: Yes, I support this.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Barnes: I believe the LEOBR adequately balances these protections in its current form.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Barnes: We have taken several positive steps in the fight against the opioid crisis in Maryland. Increased investment in rehabilitation services and drug diversion programs are crucial. The educational system also needs to play a major role in this effort, which is why we increased funding for schools to educate students about substance abuse. I also support the implementation of recovery programs at all Maryland public colleges.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Barnes: The key to this is high quality public education and higher education. To this end, I introduced legislation this session for free community college tuition for working families. As the son of a single, working class mom, and the first person in my family to attend college, I understand that education is the ticket to income stability in America. We need to do everything we can to support students and families who have the abilities but not the means.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?