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?
Cain: Yes, this is the main reason I’m running for office. I support all five of the pillars of the commission and am especially committed to doing more to support at-risk students and building/elevating the teaching profession – the two key goals of my job as EVP at Teach Plus. I ave been to many of the Kirwan Commission meetings and field hearings where I have testified and organized teachers to testify, including teachers from Baltimore City Public Schools, in support of better equity in our schools. I am a Team Leader for Strong Schools Maryland, where parents and other community leaders advocate regularly with the legislature on behalf of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. We have to close the funding gap, and the MSEA’s Fix the Fund initiative to send casino gaming revenue to schools in the way that was promised will help. We also have to fix the school funding formula and make sure students who have the least get the most in terms of resources. This is where the rubber meets the road – I worked on the Title I formula of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act when I was on Capitol Hill – I know how to read funding formulas and how to write them. I have also supported teachers in advising the state board of education on the Every Student Succeeds Act and it will be important to align that law with the new legislation from the commission next year.
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?
Cain: I am not an expert on transportation spending but my general sense is we need to focus more on transit, i.e. public transportation, to ensure greater access to what should be a low cost and environmentally-friendly approach. Our roads are already too congested and getting more cars on the road is not the solution. We do need more incentives for hybrid cars, carpooling and other options that reduce traffic and pollution.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Cain: No, but I strongly support medical marijuana and Anne Arundel County needs to do a much better job making this accessible to the people who need it.
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?
Cain: We have to fight back against the federal government’s efforts to de-fund Bay restoration efforts – and support leaders like Senator Van Hollen who, as a leader on the appropriations committee, helped get this funding restored. Maryland needs to join CA and other states that are actively fighting the Administration’s rollback of emission standards – this is imperative for reducing pollution and will also help with sufferers from asthma. At the state level we have to do more to repopulate the Bay with oysters and find smart incentives to bring waterman to this effort; pass the Forest Conservation Act, which is long overdue for an update; enact the styrofoam ban; be much more aggressive in banning use of toxic pesticides, which threaten the brain development of our children; and address over-development and all that that brings in terms of pollution and traffic congestion. I am proud to be endorsed by the Sierra Club and am excited to work with them, the League of Conservation Voters, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and may others on these important issues.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Cain: When I lived in New Zealand for a year, some years ago, my friends there literally did not believe me that at the time there were 27 million Americans without health insurance. That was inconceivable to them. We have to start with children. At the Children’s Defense Fund, I helped with an effort that got 2 million more children access to health insurance for the first time through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)We must protect the gains that have been made in recent years, including the Affordable Care Act, and continue moving forward until everyone has access to truly affordable health care.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Cain: We have to get serious about the public health emergency of gun violence in our society. It is not okay that people are being shot and killed in schools, at concerts, the movie theater, church, and walking down the street. Other countries are making other choices in terms of gun policy and they are getting much better results. I support the legislation that the legislature enacted this year, including making sure domestic abuser can’t access guns and banning bump stocks, but we need to do much, more more. And even with the best gun control imaginable, over 60% of the gun crimes in Baltimore are from guns from out of state. We have to get serious about electing a Congress that is willing to stand up to the NRA. We have good representation, generally, in Maryland on this but all of us can call the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate and others with a national constituency to demand action. We can also give money to candidates and organizations fighting the good fight to help build a counterweight to the NRA. We will not solve this problem until that happens.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Cain: Maryland’s reputation is that it’s not business-friendly, but I’m not convinced that reputation is accurate. And it seems to be changing. A recent Maryland Business Climate Survey found that senior executives at 250 businesses are feeling “pretty good” about the state’s economy — and that they are planning to hire more people in the next year. But they are concerned about high taxes and are having a tough time finding qualified workers. We can continue to offer tax break packages to companies like Amazon – and we have a real shot at winning that and bringing many new jobs to the state. We will be more competitive in that regard, and have a stronger economy in the future if we invest in, support, and improve our public schools – that can be game-changing in getting more businesses will be to locate here – they know we need the next generation to be fully equipped for the jobs of tomorrow. We do not have as many family-supporting jobs as we need. We can start by raising the minimum wage and expanding family and parental leave. We need to do better by teachers, firefighters and police – who are the heroes of our society but do not always have jobs that are family-supporting.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Cain: I am not an expert on this but it seems to err on the side of protecting the police at the expense of the public – at a time when there have been some real problems, from Freddie Gray to Philando Castile and many others.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Cain: We have to do more to address this public health emergency, including both treatment and prevention. I believe medical marijuana can help. It is a tragedy that there were 119 opioid deaths in Anne Arundel County in 2016, and 152 deaths — and 1,062 overdoses — in 2017. Despite prevention efforts like the very powerful “Not My Child” campaign the crisis continues. Anne Arundel County is one of the more disproportionately affected regions in the state. I will work to ensure access to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders and to ensure ready access to Naloxone. I strongly support the public health department’s efforts to support 19 “peers” to assist with various recovery initiatives but we must do more. We must include peer expertise in prevention efforts as well as treatment and recovery. I strongly support the Safe Stations initiative as well. As an immediate next step, as Delegate, I would like to create a Task Force that includes people who have suffered from opioid addiction to get their input and ideas for how to address this public health emergency and save lives. I appreciate Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ efforts to reinstate the DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) but am concerned by research showing that it is generally ineffective. Awareness and prevention are imperative and I would like to work with the school system to ensure that AACPS adopts the best possible prevention efforts.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Cain: Building the strongest possible public schools is the key. This starts with investing in a universal Pre-K system. It is also essential that we strengthening labor unions and ensure that workers have the right to organize and to collective bargaining. We also need to ensure that the new federal tax law, which is highly skewed over time to benefit the richest of the rich at the expense of the rest of us does not take hold here. It is imperative to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour and ensure a truly living wage for all. We must strengthen organizations like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and maintain and strengthen safety net programs like the EITC and SNAP, and Medicaid.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Cain: Democracy depends on the public’s right to information about government activities. Maryland’s Public Information Act grants the people of this State a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. On balance, I think it does a good job. I will always err on the side of more transparency to the public and more accountability from public officials.