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?
Makila: Yes, I support the Commission’s findings. We must fund education adequately and those funds need to be distributed equitably and fairly among the different school districts. Securing additional funding should be done by ensuring that gambling revenues are in addition to other school funding. We also need to ensure that school funding is used wisely by tracking how much funding in each school district goes to classrooms and how much goes to administration. We should also pursue truly innovative ideas from high-achieving school systems; many such innovations are either no-cost or low-cost solutions.
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?
Makila: I believe that up to this point the state’s transportation spending has been fairly well balanced. Since most Marylanders travel by car, we must continue to maintain and improve our road infrastructure. However, we also need to make significant investments in public transportation. We simply cannot solve our transportation challenges by solely focusing on roads. If additional funding is needed, I would support a slight increase in gasoline tax or some type of carbon pricing to fund needed road and transit projects. Since I don’t live in the Baltimore area, I cannot properly assess the adequacy of the available transit options in the area.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Makila: Yes. We should not waste our public safety resources on unnecessary law enforcement and imprisoning people for recreational marijuana use. Legalizing marijuana would also provide us with additional tax revenue to help us fund priority projects and programs.
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?
Makila: Protecting the Chesapeake Bay must be a high priority for Maryland. The state can protect the Bay by preserving natural landscapes and creating more protected buffers in critical areas. I will champion land preservation policies and programs to enable the establishment of such protective land areas and buffers.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Makila: We must have affordable health care and it needs to be available to everyone. Since the federal government is not making progress on this front, Maryland should work to create a statewide universal health care program. As an interim step to achieve this, a “public option” plan could be built by creating a health insurance system for state and other public sector employees.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Makila: Since I don’t live in the Baltimore area, I cannot claim to have intimate knowledge about all the underlying issues and challenges related to violent crime in the city. As a general approach, I believe we must find a way to bridge the divide between the police and the residents they serve to protect. One proven approach to achieve this is through community policing, and I believe we must support and strengthen such programs. Addressing larger societal ills, such as poverty, lack of educational opportunities and the opioid crisis, is also paramount.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Makila: Maryland has many qualities that make it a good place to conduct business, such as a well-educated and diverse workforce, thriving metropolitan areas, advantageous location, and rich natural resources. However, in many cases we have too many regulations and unnecessary bureaucracy that is not conducive to business and job creation. We should work to identify areas where regulatory reform is desirable and needed. An example is our antiquated liquor laws that are hampering the growth of craft breweries. We need to reform our laws to foster the growth of this dynamic new industry.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Makila: Yes, I strongly support establishing a neutral, nonpartisan system for drawing congressional and legislative districts. I have advocated for such redistricting reform in Maryland for several years. This would be one of my top legislative priorities.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Makila: I understand the difficult circumstances in which police officers work and their absolute right to a fair process to handle any complaints made against them. However, we have seen that in practice the current process is too protective of law enforcement officers and makes it nearly impossible to hold police officers responsible for gross misconduct. I believe the law should be changed so that the process for handling accusations against police officers is conducted by an independent third party. In the end, I believe it is also in the law enforcement officers’ own best interest if “bad apple” individuals are held accountable for their actions.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Makila: The opioid addiction crisis is a complicated, multi-faceted problem, and we need to work on multiple fronts to find solutions. We need to educate our physicians about alternative pain treatment methods and strive to significantly reduce the number of opioid prescriptions. Reducing the number of prescriptions should result in a drop in the number of new addicts. We also must make further investments in treatment programs to help those who are struggling with addiction. We also need to address larger societal ills, such as poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and unstable communities.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Makila: Income inequality is a major issue in today’s society that must be addressed. To help people on the lowest economic ladder, we must increase the state’s minimum wage and tie it to a cost of living index. We must also work to develop an affordable, universal health care system. Providing affordable health care for all will be particularly helpful for low-income residents who can face extreme financial hardship due to a minor illness. We also need to further invest in educational programs and opportunities for all students and residents, with particular focus on vocational opportunities. This will open pathways for economic security for more residents.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Makila: Maryland has made improvements to laws regarding public information and open meetings. As we encounter new problems and find additional loopholes, such issues need to be fixed. At this time, I believe the undemocratic nature of the power structure in the General Assembly is the most significant obstacle to residents’ ability to exercise oversight of the government. Currently, the Senate President and House Speaker have too much power over the legislative process. These individuals can block action on any legislation without any explanation and accountability. If elected, I will push for more democratic power structures in the General Assembly. We must also ensure that the same individuals don’t wield this significant power decade after decade.