Maryland Matters: Mike Rosenbaum: Use the Surplus to Empower and Invest in Workers

ICYMI: Maryland Matters: Mike Rosenbaum: Use the Surplus to Empower and Invest in Workers

By Mike Rosenbaum on 10/18/21

If the COVID pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the gap between Marylanders who are well off and those who are struggling to get by has only widened. Our next governor needs to have both a plan and a vision to help everyone access opportunity.

After evaluating Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Oct. 4 Maryland Matters opinion piece on what to do with our state’s $5 billion budget surplus, it became abundantly clear that while well-meaning, his ideas for helping Marylanders who feel stuck is just plain short-sighted and doesn’t go far enough.

The comptroller asserts that a $2,000 stimulus check would help reinvigorate our economy. Stimulus checks are a good start, but the fact remains that his proposal still wouldn’t cover the median cost of a two-bedroom apartment in the Baltimore region for two months — let alone other pockets of our state with a higher cost of living. Two months is hardly enough time to help folks who are unemployed, underemployed, or have been pushed out of the workforce fully transition into a job that can support themselves and a family.

Franchot also proposed reinforcing the state’s Rainy Day Fund, and yes, that is important. But if the comptroller hadn’t already noticed, it’s not just raining. It’s storming for hundreds of thousands of Marylanders — with many more worried that their fortunes could turn south at any moment.

His plan is what frustrates people about politics. The “solutions” don’t ever seem to meet the scale of the moment or actually solve the problems people face.

If you are a parent worried about making ends meet, saving for your child’s future, or have a looming health care bill or rent payment, the comptroller’s Band-Aid approach just won’t do.

As the richest state in the richest country on Earth, why should we settle for half-measures or anything less than real solutions to our problems?

I believe, especially after COVID, Marylanders have a greater appetite for large-scale investment in people and solving the problems that affect their lives.

Our surplus shows we have the resources not just to grow our economy but also to help struggling Marylanders get ahead in a game-changing way. Instead of a one-time stimulus payment that isn’t enough to cover rent, my plan would invest and empower workers — raising the average wages for thousands of Maryland workers by $38,000 per year.

My plan actually responds to the challenges Marylanders face by helping thousands make ends meet, creating access to affordable child care, and providing reliable transportation to get to work. My plan recognizes that when someone wants to transition into a new job to better provide for their family, they need wrap-around support that makes it easier to work. That’s why as governor, I would provide a $15 an hour wage while Marylanders train for new, good-paying jobs in fields that pay enough to raise a family and have thousands of open positions.

Ultimately, my plan lays out a roadmap to uplift people who feel stuck, invests in their future, and provides real opportunity and a pathway into the middle class.

A life in politics is very noble, but it’s hard to challenge the status quo when you’ve spent your career being a part of it. It’s time for fresh ideas.

The comptroller’s stimulus proposal underscores my point. Rather than proposing a real solution, he’s only offering the bare minimum in the hopes that it’s enough to make it through his next election.

I believe our next governor will have to lead differently. Marylanders are hungry for new, innovative ways to solve problems. That’s what I’ve done my entire career, and it’s the kind of leadership you can expect if I’m fortunate enough to serve as your next governor.