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?
Ready: The findings are incomplete and there has not been enough discussion on how the current education funding formula will be changed to help jurisdictions like Carroll County who are suffering through long-term declining enrollments due to population trends. There are some really good ideas for improving education, particularly literacy and expanding career and technology education but there has also been a lot of big picture talking without enough practical detail. I’m committed to funding education adequately, but not ready to commit to all of their recommendations.
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?
Ready: Maryland has, for too long, de-emphasized roads and bridges - which is primarily what the gas tax is supposed to go towards. I’m not against some transit spending, but until Governor Hogan’s election four years ago, less than 30% of the Transportation Trust Fund was going to roads and bridges. That’s been appropriately reversed over the last four years and I support continuing investments in Maryland’s overall road and transportation system. Governor Hogan has invested wisely in both road capacity expansion and the mass transit projects that will actually be used.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Ready: No. I have supported medical marijuana legalization and criminal justice reforms that allow for more second chances and treatment for non-violent drug crimes but do not support legalizing recreational use.
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?
Ready: The federal government has actually continued to increase funding aimed at actually cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Any potential budget cuts in that category have been ruled out by Congress and the proposed cuts were not focused on the cleanup portion of EPA Chesapeake Bay funds. Maryland should continue the Hogan administration’s focus on cleaning up and dredging the Conowingo Dam and interstate compacts that ensure that all states in the watershed are shouldering the burden of the pollution that they are responsible for.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Ready: Often the focus of the health care debate nationally is wrongly centered on the cost of insurance instead of the cost of care. Finding ways to reduce the overall cost of care - caused partly by the way the system is driven by the negotiation between insurance companies and providers, legal issues, and still lagging modernization of health records and technology are all factors in why health insurance and care are so expensive. The current federal intervention in health insurance is unsustainable and has led to skyrocketing premiums. Some additional possible solutions include greater use of health savings accounts and going back to the high risk pool model for insuring those who cannot get conventional insurance.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Ready: Baltimore’s state and local leaders need to embrace real reforms in how we deal with repeat criminals, particularly those who use guns in commission of crimes. There is far too much leniency in both prosecution and sentencing. The state has been providing significant funds for decades, and Governor Hogan has helped with funds that are being used to knock down vacant, dangerous buildings. A change in perspective from those in leadership in both city government and the community in Baltimore is needed towards holding the criminal element responsible for their actions and protecting the vulnerable residents.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Ready: Maryland’s business climate is improving thanks to Governor Hogan’s relentless focus on making state agencies more customer friendly and responsive, as well as removing unneeded regulation on job creators. We need to do more of that, and continue to reform our tax code and regulatory code to incentivize innovation and hard work. Another step is continuing to reform professional licensing so that it’s easier for people to get into professions like cosmetology, professional services, and custodial work. The best kind of job is one where the person can own their own destiny and even employ others. Maryland’s made progress on this but outdated licensing requirements that are not always safety-related can get in the way of someone trying to work their way up.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Ready: Yes, I’ve co-sponsored Governor Hogan’s legislation on that each year. I also participated in lawsuits against the current map back in 2011 when it was being considered.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Ready: I support LEOBR. Any changes to it should be negotiated through the typical collective bargaining process as all other professions with collective bargaining do. It is the height of liberal hypocrisy to treat all public sector unions and their agreements as totally infallible but make an exception for our law enforcement.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Ready: In 2016, I was a co-sponsor and supporter of Justice Reinvestment which included changes to law that allow people
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Ready: Reducing the overall tax burden and cost of doing business will help create more good-paying jobs. Overall the cost of living for working families and the working poor in our state is far too high. Policies that reduce cost of living have been a top priority for me as a state legislator.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Ready: We have a pretty strong act although there is sometimes confusion about the rights people have to request information or attend meetings. That’s why I’ve consistently supported mandated training requirements for government staff and elected officials to understand their responsibility and Governor Hogan’s proposals to live stream all General Assembly floor sessions.