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?
Benson: I am a strong unwavering supporter of full funding of education. If we don’t educate our children, we won’t have to worry about the future because there won’t be one. We must insure that every dollar going into education trust fund is used in our schools. Whatever it takes, we should support the findings.
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?
Benson: The General Assembly passed a bill to insure there was equity in providing funding for our roads, bridges, and transit. The cancellation of the Red Line serves as a disadvantage for the Baltimore region. I do believe our transportation system has the resources to respond to this critical need.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Benson: I do not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.
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?
Benson: We need strong communication and an educational component for our citizens regarding what happens when they litter our roads and highways. Land run offs are a contributing factor to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. We need stronger legislation for companies and those who do not control poultry litter, dumping of refuse, and poor waste water management. We also need to better control the use of materials used in fertilizer which are a part of the water that flows into the Chesapeake and kill our fish.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Benson: I am a strong unwavering supporter of the Universal Care Act. Everyone should be able to have access to quality health care. We need to expand the Medical Assistance Program for families and make Medicaid more available for low income and disabled citizens.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Benson: The General Assembly must provide every resource possible to help Baltimore which at one time was the economic engine for the state. This includes, job creation, education enhancement, providing incentives for economic development, improved health care and affordable housing.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Benson: More time needs to be spent talking about what’s great about our state. Our public relations need a “shot in the arm” on this issue. We need also to provide more incentive packages for companies to relocate here.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Benson: Yes, I do support this important body.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Benson: I think there needs to be an independent panel established to look at this Bill of Rights and make recommended changes.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Benson: We need to train more people to work in our schools, churches, communities regarding the devastation of any drug. Many of our people get caught up in the drug crisis due to a lack of knowledge.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Benson: We need to find the areas in our state, which is among the richest and most educated in the country, and infuse resources, job skills training and opportunities for people who want a chance to succeed.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Benson: I am a strong supporter of public transparency and we have put legislation in place for the over sight.