I understand that there’s a false notion that what’s good for business must be bad for the employee and vice-versa. Each can benefit.
Here are specific ways I plan to support our amazing workforce across the state.
Medicaid Eligibility Expansion
- Nearly 350,000 Marylanders do not have health insurance, and over 100,000 of these people are not even eligible to receive Medicaid, a federally and state-funded healthcare subsidies program designed to help cover those with financial hardships.
- This significant gap in eligibility is primarily created by state-specific income limits that place extreme caps on how much money a household can make before being rendered ineligible for Medicaid. In Maryland, that income limit is just 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which amounts to approximately $17,800 for a one-person household. This income limit is a policy disaster, as hardly any full-time workers in Maryland who earn the state minimum wage of $11.75/hour would be able to qualify for Medicaid, despite making less than $25,000 a year.
- To make matters even worse, undocumented immigrants are technically barred from Medicaid eligibility entirely, because they fail to meet federal immigration status requirements. These flaws in our healthcare system will inevitably continue to lead to needless suffering and increased medical debt.
- Raise Maryland’s Medicaid income limit to 200% of the FPL, which would correspond with approximately $25,800 for a one-person household.
- This would help ensure that nobody slips through the cracks and misses an opportunity for meaningful health coverage, because it would more comprehensively bridge the gap between those who can and cannot afford health insurance.
- Another crucial solution to this problem would be to expand the Emergency Medicaid ‘loophole’ that already enables periodic, selective coverage for undocumented immigrants.
Unlike other policy proposals, this one does not inherently entail additional costs:
- This policy purely expands Medicaid eligibility for those who desire it — instead of automatically enrolling people and increasing spending;
- It will not only help us reduce healthcare costs in the long-term, but the lion’s share of this financial burden will still belong to the federal government.
I would invest in workforce development and career readiness programs in partnership with organizations (like Worksource Montgomery) and utilizing the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program, that can help train our residents for these new job opportunities, while also attracting younger employees to move and work in our state.
Likewise, I will push for more training and development programs targeted for veterans, LGBTQ workers, workers of color, women, those with a disability, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to ensure that all Marylanders are given ample opportunities to find successful careers.
One of the key tenets of building up our state’s workers is protecting and expanding access to collective bargaining and union rights. Not only do collective bargaining rights help ensure our workers have a seat at the table when it comes to ensuring safe working conditions, access to healthcare, and living wages, but they make companies places where employees want to work — allowing employees to stick around longer and be more productive.
And if/when negotiations fail to reach an agreement, it makes sense to bring in an objective, third party arbitrator to resolve the issue. And as Governor, I will ensure these contract negotiations are binding — so both parties can be held accountable.
Paid Family/Medical Leave
Maryland currently has no laws requiring employers to provide this. But another key part of employee well-being is ensuring all workers have paid leave. This ensures that should there be a personal or family emergency, they do not risk getting fired or becoming forced to choose between their emergency and their source of income.
This is why I am in strong favor of creating a Paid Family Leave Insurance Fund for all businesses to guarantee all workers up to 12 weeks of partial wage replacement should they need to take a leave for personal or familial reasons.
Corporate-social responsibility is not a luxury but a necessity. Businesses do not live in an isolated bubble, but rather must care about the well-being of their employees and the community that surrounds and supports them.
As such, we must be smart about which large companies do business into our state. While I want to bring more businesses and jobs into Maryland, we must not do so by selling out our residents.
- This means that we need to ensure that they are offering fair wages and benefits for their employees as well as consider levying impact fees to support schools and housing in the communities they will be impacting.
- This means that we need to ensure we provide proper protections for gig workers: ensuring they have a right to organize, have access to quality and affordable healthcare, and are treated with dignity.
- Likewise, we should not be begging these large corporations to bring jobs to Maryland at the tremendous cost to taxpayers. Instead, we should be prioritizing organic job growth in our communities.
Oppose “Right To Work” and “At-Will” policies
I strongly oppose “Right To Work” and “At-Will” policies that either prevent employees from joining a union or where terms of employment can change without just-cause or proper notification.
We must also ensure safe working conditions to protect employees from workplace injuries, illness and death.
Encourage Defined Benefit retirement plans over Defined Contribution
Defined Benefit retirement plans (like pensions) are more sustainable than Defined Contribution (like 401Ks). They allow employees to better plan for retirement because they know exactly how much income they’ll receive. Defined contribution plans (like 401K) are more volatile and based on where money is invested.
The “Maryland Now” plan:
As I’ve outlined (in detail) HERE, this proposal will be one of the best jobs programs and sustainable stimulus efforts in the nation because it will expand economic security for all Marylanders.
For the 95% of Marylanders who earn a personal income of less than $400,000, my Maryland Now Plan will eliminate your state income tax. Furthermore, I will make Maryland the first state in the nation to fulfill this promise: If you are unemployed and need a job — you will be guaranteed one.