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?
Ivey: I support the Commission’s findings. I think the state should 1) increase funding for schools with more poor and special needs children, 2) that pre-k should be expanded, 3) that the status of educators should be raised, 4) that high school diplomas should be made more meaningful and valuable, and 5) that Maryland schools – especially Prince George’s County schools – desperately need better governance and more accountability. Specifically, for educators, I support higher quality preparation programs, higher certification requirements, higher pay, more time for teamwork and individual attention, career ladders that reward teacher expertise, and leadership development. And, to make high school diplomas more valuable, I support college and career readiness by the end of tenth grade, an early warning system, targeted courses for special needs students, AP and IB courses, opportunities for advanced high school students to earn associates’ degrees, and technical education that leads to the latest industry certified credentials. I am committed to funding these reforms by making wealthy individuals and corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
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?
Ivey: Maryland’s transportation spending is out of whack. I support more investment in mass public transit infrastructure and Metro funding, but, in my view, the state has been too focused on spending on things like the governor’s proposed highway expansion project, which, by the way, was characterized by cronyism and a lack of ethics and transparency, because his transportation secretary supported giving a fast-tracked contract worth tens of millions of dollars to his former employer, a friend, and a former colleague. The Red Line cancellation was bad for Baltimore in terms of economic development and growth, jobs, job access, health care, child care, and educational opportunities, and it made it harder for Baltimore County residents to get to federal agencies like Social Security and Medicare offices. Without the Red Line and Baltimore Link, Baltimore transit is severely lacking, and it’s too slow.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Ivey: I support legalizing recreational marijuana. It’s overdue, and the state should have legalized it years ago. I think mere legalization of marijuana was only intended to help a select few make exorbitant profits off of pot, while others have gone to jail over pot. On that point, I support the retroactive expungement of the so called criminal records of those Marylanders who have been jailed for breaking draconian drug laws like marijuana criminalization.
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?
Ivey: The Chesapeake Bay is too dirty, and, in my view, it will not be clean enough until it is clean enough for people to swim in. As unconventional as that may sound, that is my standard. The state needs to invest more resources into the protection of crabs and other wildlife while eliminating pollution.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Ivey: First, I believe that high quality health care is a right. That is the foundation of my health care policy platform, which is that I support universal health care – a Medicare for all single payer system. I support the state investing the necessary resources to make this vision a reality. And I support legislation to lower costs and prices for prescription drug medications
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Ivey: Baltimore’s violent crime rate is way too high. In short, my solution is fourfold. First, I believe in community policing strategies. Second, get illegally obtained firearms off the streets. Third, expand the Safe Streets program. Fourth, embrace external partnerships like gun task forces that span Maryland cities and counties. These partnerships recognize the importance of collaboration between communities like Baltimore and those in District 47a. While violent crime may be lower in 47a, the crime rate here also needs to be lowered. And working together to address this local and even national issue of guns is a major key.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Ivey: My focus is not on giveaways to large corporations. My focus is on creating jobs that can help ordinary workers support their families, and I support job training and retraining for jobs in 21st century industries – high tech jobs and clean energy jobs. Second, I support an expansion of the Maryland earned income tax credit. And, third, I will especially support legislation that uplifts small-, local-, minority-, or women-owned businesses.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Ivey: I oppose gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is unfair, and it should be a bipartisan issue: Democrats and Republicans should unite to end gerrymandering. It undermines free speech, and dilutes Americans’ voting power through inequality. Ending gerrymandering is a matter of strengthening our nation’s democracy.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Ivey: I am open to the option of amending the LEOBR. Police are not above the law. There have been to many police shootings and killings of civilians. Police in the U.S. should consider the example of armed soldiers who, while in foreign territory, routinely encounter civilians that otherwise may appear “threatening.” But, to their credit, our soldiers generally demonstrate an impressive level of restraint, even in wartime. Police need to show more restraint with and have less fear of the public. I respect officers’ rights to due process and know how concerned police are about being able to come home every evening. But ordinary Americans, including African-Americans, too should be able to come home alive and come home safely.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Ivey: The opioid issue is at a crisis point in Maryland, as it is in too many places across the country. I believe the answer is twofold: first, crack down on reckless drug manufacturers. Second, promote restorative justice: initiatives and programs opioid users that are addicted. But restorative justice is bigger and broader than opioids. It also should apply to drug addicts that have abused crack and heroin – addicts who may tend to be racial minorities, compared to opioid abusers.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Ivey: I support a livable wage: of course, first, that means support for the Fight for 15. But, in the long run, we need to think bigger and bolder than that, because we need to account for inflation and be realistic about the cost of living, especially in more expensive Maryland communities near the Capital Beltway. I am also a strong supporter of workers and union issues. I support strengthening laws on equal pay for women. I think that governments at all levels need to be making sure tax dollars are promoting antipoverty programs. And I think that millionaires and billionaires need to pay their fair share in taxes.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Ivey: The state’s public information and open meetings laws are weak and do too little to promote open government. State agencies take too long to respond to Public Information Act requests from journalists and Maryland taxpayers. They charge exorbitant fees. They over-redact. And they deny, deny, deny, banking on requesters’ inability and unwillingness to sue. And too many ordinary Maryland taxpayers are frustrated with the rate at which public bodies find ways to legally hold secret meetings to discuss the business of the people. These laws need to be strengthened in favor of the public’s right to know, not in favor of government officials’ right to hide.