Marylanders need a raise. The Great Recession of 2008 and further structural changes are creating a more polarized economy where some flourish but many flounder. Too many mothers and fathers must work two or three jobs to provide for their families. Too many families are left wondering how they will pay for college for their children or for their own retirement. That must change.
As Governor, I will foster an environment that promotes economic growth and creates good-paying jobs, expanding opportunity and giving hard-working Marylanders the raise they need. I will build our economy from the middle out to create, once again, a dynamic middle class. I will work with private and public-sector employers to expand economic opportunity so that workers across the state can provide for their families and save for college and retirement. My administration will train Marylanders for the jobs of today and prepare Marylanders for the jobs of tomorrow.
To start, Maryland must build on its strengths. Our state has the benefit of being located in one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world. We also have the benefits of a world-class port, major federal government research facilities, and some of the world’s best colleges and universities. The state is not now building bridges among these various institutions. We are also not leveraging our advantages to create opportunity for everyone. Far too often, jobs and additional wages go to the wealthy. Maryland’s government must work diligently to make sure that all Marylanders can participate in and derive value from these strengths.
A good education system is the backbone of an economy. Businesses, particularly high-tech businesses, need a strong labor supply. Look no further than Amazon’s request for proposal for a second North American headquarters. One of Amazon’s top requirements is a strong K-12 education system and quality higher education institutions. Start-ups and small businesses, the lifeblood of job growth, are often created by entrepreneurs who develop their skills in the classroom. There is a distinct and undeniable correlation between a Marylander’s level of education and their wage. As Governor, education will be my top priority. I will revamp our system so that all high school students graduate college or career ready.
Investment in infrastructure is a central function and responsibility of the state government. Well-conceived infrastructure investments power economic development by generating jobs, stimulating economic activity, and increasing tax revenues. Maryland needs significant infrastructure improvements. The traffic that all Marylanders know too well soils the environment, affects the quality of life, and stunts the flow of commerce. Investing in new transportation infrastructure will create short term jobs through construction and long-term economic returns. Other forms of infrastructure improvements are needed as well. Water and sewer pipes break across the state on a daily basis. These infrastructure improvements are crucial, and making them will create good-paying jobs for the people of Maryland.
Maryland’s state government needs to shift the way it thinks about economic development. Right now, we are stuck in a race to the bottom. We operate under the assumption that, if only we cut taxes as low as possible, and if only we eliminated all regulations, then businesses would flock to Maryland, and we would thrive. However, in that scenario, the state wouldn’t be able to provide any of the services upon which so many Marylanders rely. Further, the truth is that “poaching” – the practice of trying to lure businesses from other states – only accounts for about 2% of jobs in any one state.
Instead, the state should focus on growing from within and investing in Maryland and its people. This new outlook includes the way in which the state handles financial incentives. Incentive proposals should not be handed out to big corporations without significant and adequate scrutiny. Would the economic activity have occurred without the incentive? What are the true costs of the incentive to the state? What else could the state do with the money? A renewed outlook on economic development will focus on growing Maryland businesses rather than partaking in the damaging race to the bottom.
As we move deeper into the 21st century, Maryland must adjust to a changing economy. We can create a system that works for everyone, grow the middle class, and make Maryland a place of opportunity. To do so, we must use the resources the state has at its disposal in an efficient and effective way to support the true job creators in the state: the people.