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?
Cassilly: Everyone wants top quality public education and most of the Commission’s goals are worthy of support. The challenge is in the funding – simply demanding more money “for the children” is insufficient. As public officials, we have to go much further to justify the expense. Taxpayers are justifiably wary of sending additional money to the State to redistribute among the counties and Baltimore City. Taxpayers are well aware, for example, that Baltimore City receives three times the amount shared with most other counties and that the results of that generous spending are abysmal. A number of other jurisdictions are also lacking in the effective utilization of taxpayers’ dollars. Government must clearly demonstrate that additional funding for education is absolutely necessary to improve quality and not simply to make up for taxes lost through gross inefficiency, waste, fraud, and malfeasance. Citizens are right to demand full accountability.
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?
Cassilly: Neither roads nor transit gets the amount of funding needed. It is important to recognize that we are a very diverse state and that the transportation needs in Montgomery County are very different from those in Harford and Cecil Counties, for example and that the needs vary greatly within each jurisdiction. The D.C. area jurisdiction moves very large numbers of people to a relatively compact area so an extensive investment in transit makes sense. A similar level of transit in the rest of the state is more difficult to support where the employment is far less centralized. As the state continues to grow and change, it is important that elected officials try to understand and appreciate the very diverse interests of all parts of our state. Because of that diversity, there will always be a constant tension as we struggle to find the correct balance. That is not bad; it is just hard to do.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Cassilly: Maryland has already decriminalized the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana. The issue now, is do we go further and if so, how fast and how far. Is wholesale and immediate decriminalization in the public interest? Reliable studies on the societal and individual impacts of recreational marijuana have been hampered by its illegality. As more states legalize, the number or very reputable studies is expanding. Those studies, including studies from the University of Maryland and NIH, are raising a lot of serious concerns. We also lack the ability to conduct on the spot tests to determine levels of intoxication as we currently have to test for alcohol intoxication. Before we fully address the issue of decriminalization, I would like a greater opportunity to examine all of the data that is beginning to emerge from those states that have volunteered to serve as our national test cases for legalization.
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?
Cassilly: The federal government’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay has always been questionable. That is obvious from the fact that despite many political changes in D.C. over the past five decades, the overwhelming majority of Bay pollution continues to run in from Pennsylvania and New York. That is because those states have far more political power than Maryland at the national level and are able to avoid responsibility for their polluted runoff. Maryland enacts laws and spends substantial sums to protect the Bay locally only to have those efforts greatly diminished by pollution from neighboring states. We must stay the course locally and work at all levels of government to significantly expand our impact in Congress and in direct dealings with other states.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Cassilly: The majority of Marylanders would be well served by a strong, private healthcare marketplace. Those who for a variety of reasons are not well served by the private sector should be afforded state subsidized healthcare. What we should not do is undermine the success and efficiency of the private sector providers in a misguided effort to make them also serve a quasi-governmental function. In the short term, we have to continue to work with the system we have to avoid catastrophic results of a failed system.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Cassilly: The most important role the state can play in reducing violent crime in Baltimore is to help City residents understand the root causes of that crime: fatherless children, under performing schools, an anti-business bias in City government that leads to a shortage of employment opportunities for young people and for those who are academically challenged, and a criminal justice system that appears more interested in the perpetrators than the victims.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Cassilly: The current business climate is quite favorable to white collar jobs. We still have much further to go in our efforts to expand employment opportunities in manufacturing and other blue collar jobs. We are leaving a large sector of our population on the sidelines of economic opportunity. We have a limited number of employers whose business model presents ample opportunities for young, inexperienced, and less educated workers. Rather than targeting those employers with the burdens of mandatory minimum wages and other benefit mandates, the costs of assisting low income workers with rent, healthcare, food and the like should be shared by all taxpayers. If the voters support increased benefits, those should be paid from the general tax revenues and not taken solely from those employers willing to take the business risk of employing the minimally skilled.
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?
Cassilly: The LEOBR strikes an appropriate balance. There have been numerous misguided efforts from the Baltimore City to undo that balance. The LEOBR protections do not support bad policing and removing or reducing these protections will only serve to discourage quality police officers from serving in the City.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Cassilly: The state is on the right course now. We have expanded opportunities for treatment, expanded emergency medical care, increased prosecution of illegal distribution, expanded emergency training, reduced prescriptions, and expanded drug education in schools and at work. This comprehensive approach is succeeding and those results are a testament to the power of good, hardworking people to make a difference.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Cassilly: We have to expand job opportunities for those who for a variety of reasons are not suited to white collar employment.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Cassilly: The laws are meaningless without enforcement. We need to expand enforcement of open meeting laws. PIA requests would, in most cases, be unnecessary if public information was effectively posted on the internet. We are seeing expanding access to public information via the internet. That effort has got to continue at an accelerated pace.