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?
Perini: I do support the work of the Kirwan Commission. The main policy areas of the commission are: Early Childhood Education, High Quality Teachers and Leaders, College and Career Readiness Pathways, More Resources for at–risk Students and Governance and Accountability. I am especially an advocate for early childhood education. One of my heroes is Steny Hoyer. Congressman Hoyer created the Judith P. Hoyer Early Childhood Care and Family Education Centers, known as “Judy Centers”, which coordinate services for children from the time they are born until they enter kindergarten. My grandfather used to tell me when I was in school, “study hard because this education has to last you the rest of your life”. That is why I believe that we must attract the best possible teachers and pay them the best possible wage to give our children the best possible education. All of the recommendations of the commission have a price tag. We need to commit to funding public education including the Kirwan Commission reforms. The alternative is to have to pay and pay and pay for so many other problems that poor education breeds including many described in other questions in this article.
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?
Perini: My district, 2B, incorporates the City of Hagerstown which is an area that has limited transit options and therefore we depend on our roads infrastructure. The Governor has not adequately funded the Highway User Revenue Fund for local jurisdictions like Hagerstown and Washington County. As a candidate, I do not necessarily have access to the information to determine whether the State has the resources to meet its transportation needs, but I do believe that we must look for new and innovative alternatives for transportation. Until then our current infrastructure needs to be improved such as the widening of Interstate 81.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
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?
Perini: I am a proponent of local-state-federal-private partnership efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is one of the most valuable natural resources in our country. Marine aquaculture, the business of working in and around the water is a very important part of our State’s economy. I will work to increase the effort to repopulate the oysters in the Bay which help to filter unwanted nutrients that cause dead zones and impair our Maryland blue crab and indigenous fish.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Perini: The Democratic led Maryland legislature took great steps in the 2018 session to stabilize the Affordable Healthcare Act for Marylanders by establishing the Maryland Insurance Stabilization Fund and the Health Insurance Down Payment Escrow Fund. This was in response to the Republican led Congress working to strip the provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act. One of the biggest challenges to access to affordable health care is the ever-increasing insurance premiums and deductibles. Previously I employed over 1,000 people and we struggled every day to cope with the cost of health insurance and what portion the employees paid. I will work to find ways to change the incentives so that providers and payers focus on wellness and prevention. Too many people are forced into high deductible plans that discourage them from seeing a doctor or seeking care. In the end this ultimately costs the health care system more money rather than ensuring that people get the care they need when they need it.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Perini: I support Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Call to Action” program to help reduce violent crime in Baltimore City. The State needs to have her back as she works to make Baltimore safe. We can work with the Pugh Administration to increase effective policing by regaining the trust between the community and the police. Baltimore is working to increase the number of sworn officers and improve their training as well as enhance the effectiveness of the Baltimore Police organization. By reducing the number of violent repeat offenders and getting illegal guns off of the streets, the violent crime could be significantly reduced. And finally, the Baltimore Police can focus on de-escalation to diffuse situations before they become deadly. I support Mayor Pugh’s Administration’s efforts to improve community engagement.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Perini: I would characterize Maryland’s business climate as a struggle to balance the need to attract living wage jobs with giving those workers the protections and support that they and their families need. As a businessman who once ran a business with over 1,000 employees, I understand the delicate nature of that balance. Too far in one direction, and businesses who have a choice of where to locate may consider Maryland to be an unfriendly climate. However, we have seen many stories of states that do not look out for workers and the unsustainable situation that creates. For example, in West Virginia (a place that most agree is very conservative) it took a state-wide walk out to get teachers even a basic cost of living wage increase, which is now being replicated in similar states of Arizona and Oklahoma. To create more family-supporting jobs, I am in favor of more private investment in Maryland such as Kevin Plank’s Port Covington project in Baltimore.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Perini: I believe that extreme partisan gerrymandering, such as they had in Pennsylvania, is bad for our country. There are many highly intelligent people who are, as we speak, trying to find a solution to extreme partisan gerrymandering. These include the former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and even the United States Supreme Court, who are currently considering gerrymandering cases brought in Maryland and Wisconsin. So, I do not claim to have the answers that many others are working hard to find. In the end, however, we clearly need a national fix to the problem that has created so much gridlock that it keeps Congress from functioning properly.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Perini: I believe Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balances protections for both the police and the public.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Perini: I will work to tackle the opioid crisis that is gripping our city. Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis, and every day that we don’t act more people die. In Annapolis, I will fight to bring detox and treatment facilities to Hagerstown, expand opioid education programs in our middle and high schools, and help provide families with the life-saving medications.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Perini: This response assumes that this question is referring to income inequality between men and women. I believe that it is unconscionable to pay one person more for the exact same work as another person only based on gender. Two people performing the exact same job should be paid the same regardless of whether they are a man or a woman. I am sure that my friends in the UAW Local 171 working on the production line making transmissions and engines at the Volvo / Mack plant in Hagerstown are making the same pay whether they are men or women. We must enforce the federal gender anti-discrimination laws and protect those laws from being undone by the current Administration.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?