Rebuild Our Schools and Expand Pre-Kindergarten Opportunities
As a graduate of Prince George's County public schools, Matt knows how important it is for students to have a safe, clean learning environment that's filled with positive reinforcement for students. Both Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties have over a combined $2 billion school repairs backlog. In Prince George's County alone, there are 88 schools with lead-contaminated pipes. This is a major public health concern, and there is no excuse for us not to act. Within District 21 specifically, we must build a new High Point High School and renovate our elementary and middle schools.
Matt also believes in the importance of universal pre-K for students of all incomes. Academic research shows pre-k is very effective in boosting student outcomes and closing early achievement gaps if the programs are high-quality. The recent preliminary Kirwan Commission report on improving the delivery of education in Maryland calculated that the return on investment for every dollar the state invests in pre-k is $6.16. Expansion of pre-K could begin with broadening the eligibility for free pre-K to families at 300% of less of the poverty level (currently it stands at 185%) for four year olds. This would make it accessible for free to a family of four making $74,000 or less. For a family making more than this threshold, access could still be provided, but with a fee charged on an income-based sliding scale.
Fight Income Inequality
In recent years, Maryland legislators have cut estate taxes for the wealthiest residents and handed out over $100 million in tax breaks to corporations, such as Lockheed Martin and Marriott. Matt will prioritize policies that empower working families, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, affordable child care, affordable housing, and support for small businesses. Matt will also work to support non-traditional business models, such as B-Corporations, co-ops, and employee-owned businesses.
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
Consumers around the country, including those in Maryland, have seen dramatic increases in the price of prescription drugs in recent years. We have reached a point where Maryland residents, particularly seniors, face a choice between feeding their families and buying necessary medicine. The Maryland legislature recently gave the Maryland Attorney General greater authority to sue prescription drug companies for price gouging. However, the bill only covers generic drugs and it provides too much leeway for drug companies to hike prices annually and avoid legal action.
Matt feels that Maryland's price gouging law should be stronger. He also believes that drug companies planning large price increases should be legally required to file notice with the state and to provide in depth documentation justifying the increase. This would provide greater transparency for state regulatory agencies, the Attorney General, and the public. Finally, recognizing that drug prices have already risen far too much, Matt will work to double the Maryland Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program benefit.
Support Clean Energy, Fight Pollution
Matt got his start in politics by successfully advocating for the University of Maryland to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change. More recently, he worked for Councilwoman Mary Lehman to draft and pass a fracking ban in Prince George's County, which helped pressure Maryland to permanently ban fracking statewide. At the national level, it is disheartening to watch the Trump administration work to undo the progress that was made by President Obama. In Maryland, we can resist Trump's agenda with ambitious policies that move us to 100% clean energy and close our remaining coal plants. Matt will bring to this fight more than a decade of experience in environmental and energy policy, and he will push bold, innovative approaches to make Maryland the envy of the nation in climate policy, clean energy production, and well-paying green jobs.
Organize a Route 1 Coalition
Running through College Park, Beltsville, and Laurel, Route 1 goes through much of District 21. Matt will work with local leaders to form a Route 1 Coalition of residents, businesses, and local officials to advocate for improved transportation, public safety, and sustainable development along the Route 1 corridor. This community-organized approach has been used in other districts to effectively address local concerns and attract greater local and state investment in long-needed projects.
Tackle the Opioid Crisis
Between 2013 and 2015, Anne Arundel had the 3rd most opioid deaths in Maryland, a number significantly higher than in more populated counties. During the recent Maryland General Assembly session, legislation was proposed to establish 10 crisis-treatment centers across the state to provide both emergency and comprehensive treatment services to overdose patients. However, the bill was weakened to include support for only one treatment center. We must adequately invest in overdose education and crisis-treatment centers to ensure victims receive the help that they need.
Advocate for Criminal Justice Reform
The inequities in our justice system oppress people of color and the poor, at the expense of taxpayers. Many mandatory minimum sentences imposed for nonviolent crimes are often excessive and ruin lives. The bail bond system in Maryland has a legacy of holding people in jail cells on the basis of whether they can afford to post bail rather than whether they are a risk to society. Matt supports reforms that increase workable alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders while saving taxpayers money, while strengthening the communities and families most impacted by an unjust system.
Support Public Financing of State and Local Elections
The influence of big money in today's politics is a threat to American democracy. While the problem is worse at the national level, many political campaigns in Maryland are predominantly funded through large contributions from wealthy donors, well-connected lobbyists, and large businesses. These contributions often drown out the voices of regular citizens and small businesses.
Matt supports providing candidates for state office with the option of using public funds to match small-donor contributions. In exchange for these matching funds, a candidate would have to forgo all corporate and PAC contributions, and accept limits on the size of individual contributions. Jurisdictions that have a small donor public financing program have voter-centered elections; they also have more competitive elections and, more diverse candidates. Matt believes every local government in Maryland should be required to offer a small donor matching program to candidates for local office.