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?
: The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education identified four major priorities for education reform - increasing investment in early-childhood education and for at-risk students, reshaping education pathways to focus on college or career readiness; and transforming teaching into a high-status profession with better compensation and more professional development. The Commission also recommended aligning individual schools and school systems with the Commission’s recommendations through a new governance system. Although the Commission did not specify exactly how it would drive change, it suggested tying state funding to reform. I support and have publicly advocated for many of the Commission’s findings. In a major report released in 2012 (https://isps.yale.edu/sites/default/files/publication/2013/01/2012-prosperity-for-all.pdf
), and summarized in an opinion piece in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/10/18/shrink-inequality-to-grow-the-economy/all-will-benefit-if-more-are-made-secure
), I called for Federally-funded universal pre-K, major investment in teaching as a profession, and a national focus on career readiness. I continue to believe in the importance of these policies. I also support focusing resources on at-risk students. As always when it comes to policy, however, execution and implementation are critical. To make the kinds of reforms outlined in the Commission’s report will require major, statewide political organizing. Put differently, the funding is only one part of the question; the broader question is: is Maryland ready for this kind of commitment and alignment behind a single educational framework and vision? With political support, the funding can be found. My priority will be the political fight - the hard work of building broad consensus in Maryland behind the Commission’s recommendation.
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?
: The U.S. as a whole is under-investing in our transportation infrastructure, especially public transportation, and Maryland is no exception. I have two basic principles when it comes to investing in transportation infrastructure. (1) Fix it first: Research shows that the most significant economic benefits of transportation investment come from fixing our existing infrastructure before we build more (http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/fix_it_first_expand_it_second_reward_it_third_a_new_strategy_for_ameri/
). The common sense version of this is: fix the potholes. Keeping our roads well maintained and running smoothly will literally keep the wheels of commerce spinning. The flip-side of this is that we should be cautious before we build any more highways. Research has shown time and again that you can’t fix congestion by building or expanding roads; people simply drive more. (2) Invest in public transportation: Which leads to the second principle: we need to focus our new investments in public transportation. Baltimore is not well-served by our current transit system. As a short-term step, we need to focus on integrating technology into our bus fleet to help users better track buses in real time, focus on ‘complete streets’ design that balances pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and investing in more proactive maintenance of our fixed-line transit systems.
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?
: The Chesapeake Bay is a vital resource, an environmental treasure, and an integral part of Maryland’s history and future. Protecting the Bay will be a major priority of mine as State Delegate. When it comes to protecting the Bay, I believe change starts at home. The single most important thing that Baltimore can do to protect the health of the Bay is improve stormwater management - namely by completing the infrastructure improvements to which we have committed under consent decree with the EPA. The Department of Public Works has a solid plan in place. However, the funding and financing challenges remain steep. While at the White House, I was in charge of the Obama Administration’s work on infrastructure financing and launched the EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center. Once elected I will work with DPW to explore Federal grants and financing opportunities that can help expedite the completion of this critical work. My second priority for protecting the Bay will be advancing the Styrofoam ban that failed in this year’s legislative session. But the biggest environmental challenge we face is climate change, which will impact the Bay as it will impact every major ecosystem on our planet. On climate change, I believe the transportation sector should be our state’s next area of focus. I plan to pursue a small fee on oil that can fund major investments clean transportation technologies. This proposal builds on a proposal I helped shape in President Obama’s FY17 budget (https://www.vox.com/2016/2/4/10919012/obama-oil-fee-transportation
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Loewentheil: I am still shaping my policy proposals on health care.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Loewentheil: I believe our state government needs to step in and help the city address this historic wave of crime and violence. I’ve laid out a detailed four-part plan that includes recommendations for the city, state and public safety agencies. First, directly tackle street crime and gun violence by expanding community-oriented, beat policing; deploying proven models, like Ceasefire, to deter violent criminals; and mobilizing private sector and local, state, and Federal resources to light up city streets. Second, rebuild trust in the Baltimore Police Department. Let’s implement the DOJ Consent Decree quickly and thoroughly by tying state funding for the Department to reform milestones; improve BPD training; transform the Civilian Review Board into a Police Accountability and Reform Commission; and expand police recruitment with a focus on Baltimore City residents. Third, we need to fund community programs. I’m calling to mobilize resources to expand after-school programming; establish a new statewide ‘block by block’ community safety grant program; and fully fund Safe Streets and other public health programs. Finally, I’m calling for reforms to bring balance to our criminal justice system. We should focus first and foremost on deterring violent crime. That means strong signaling that if you commit a violent crime, you’re likely to be caught, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Longer mandatory minimums don’t help. Instead, let’s improve how the State’s Attorney’s Office does business - and how our city’s safety agencies coordinate. Similarly, let’s focus in our juvenile justice system on community mediation programs, but hold repeat violent offenders accountable.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Loewentheil: When it comes to creating jobs, Maryland needs to build from strength. Baltimore has always thrived because of the its strategic location on the Chesapeake Bay. Today, the city sits along major highway and freight rail lines with one of the best deep-water ports in the country. That’s why the city has seen such strong job growth and investment from companies like Amazon and why we are seeing a revival of the old Sparrows Point as a new center for logistics and light manufacturing. The State of Maryland can help to drive this growth by investing in infrastructure - starting with the Howard Street tunnel. There’s another area for infrastructure investment that does not get the attention it deserves - namely broadband. I believe Baltimore should develop a municipal broadband network that expand access to true high-speed internet and encourages technology and biotechnology companies to locate or stay here. Another area of opportunity for Baltimore and for Maryland is craft beer. Our neighborhood breweries create jobs, spur neighborhood revitalization and repurpose industrial spaces, and as importantly, make terrific beers. Our state legislature should be fighting for our local small businesses - not backing the big four beer monopolies. Finally, we need to support entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs and small business owners create jobs and keep resources in our neighborhoods and our city. I will focus on policies that encourage entrepreneurship and business creation, including subsidizing child-care for low-income entrepreneurs and enacting the Angel Investor Tax Credit.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Loewentheil: Yes. Maryland should lead by example in setting up a nonpartisan Commission - not wait to be dragged into Federal Court. I was disappointed in the leadership of our state on this issue.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Loewentheil: I am still considering this issue.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Loewentheil: Baltimore has dealt with heroin for many years. There have been two significant changes driving the public health crisis. First, the growth in abuse of prescription opioids; and second, the widespread availability of fentanyl and other high-dosage synthetic opioid products. I have a four-part strategy. First, I will be an advocate for cracking down on unnecessary opioid prescriptions. The current wave of opioid abuse is one of the most significant public health challenges in America and has almost single-handedly brought down the national average life expectancy. We have to address this at the root. At the same time, we need to address the immediate crisis of overdose deaths. Here in Baltimore, we should build on Commissioner Wen’s efforts to expand access to and emergency use of naloxone. One option is to use state purchasing power to drive down the price of the drug for Baltimore and other cities. Third, we should improve how we handle addiction in our criminal justice system by diverting people arrested for minor drug offenses and providing more drug addiction treatment options in prisons. Fourth, as Ben Jealous has suggested, we should create a statewide system for tracking drug overdoses in real time. Many drug overdoses are clustered geographically and in time - often because of a specific opioid product hitting the streets. Better real-time data could help cities, counties and state officials to respond more efficiently. It might also help law enforcement officials to track down providers.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Loewentheil: The big challenge in Baltimore is less inequality per se than entrenched, geographically concentrated poverty. A 2015 study from Harvard economist Raj Chetty found that Baltimore City had the lowest rates of economic mobility of any city in the United States. The analysis was complicated, but the moral was simple: if you’re born poor into a tough neighborhood in Baltimore, you’re likely to stay poor. That’s deeply unjust. Our local and state policies should be designed to address this underlying challenge. The single most powerful tool for addressing entrenched poverty is mixed-income housing. Study after study has shown that moving people from high concentrations of poverty to mixed-income communities has a dramatic impact on lifetime expected earnings. Baltimore City has many tools on the books to push for mixed-income developments - they just require funding and political will to implement. That’s separate and apart from other important policies - like improving education, transportation and workforce training programs. I am also supporting a $15 minimum wage that can help to lift working families out of poverty.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Loewentheil: I am still considering this issue.