Our economy and the job market are at an interesting point now, a few years into recovery from the recession. The Job Creation and Recovery Tax Credit proved to be a great success, helping employers and the unemployed come together and help one another. We are currently looking at ways to help Maryland tax payers, as many changes come through at the federal level that disproportionately hurt our state.
In leading the charge on the Job Applicant Fairness Act, I worked to help Marylanders with bad credit be able to obtain and retain employment, and worked to create opportunities for small businesses under an expansion of the Small Business Reserve Program. I continue to work to provide more opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran and service-disabled veteran-owned, or otherwise disadvantaged small businesses. Much more needs to be done, and I look forward to working with business and labor to make sure that we continue this growth.
We have made serious commitments to helping to grow the Tech and Biotech sectors, and have made unprecedented commitments to higher education to provide for a trained workforce, including the construction of the Biotech Sciences Center at Montgomery College in Germantown and the Science Center at Montgomery College in Rockville, and helping to fund STEM programs at our public schools and universities. Our region boasts an impressive number of biotech companies, and we want to continue convincing them to invest in our local economies.
There has been a statewide push to raise the minimum wage, the Fight for Fifteen campaign, that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2023. This is a measure that has already been adopted in Montgomery County, and I hope to see the rest of the state follow suit. It’s ridiculous to think that someone could be working 3 part-time jobs, and still struggle to make ends meet.
Along those lines, the state legislature voted to overturn Governor Hogan’s veto on the earned sick leave bill, greatly expanding the benefit to over 500,000 Maryland workers who were previously ineligible. Employees will be able to start accruing hours of sick leave at an earlier point, and employers cannot deny this critical benefit. When more people are able to take sick leave without worrying about the safety of their job, fewer people show up to work sick, reducing the spread of germs, more parents can take care of their sick children, and domestic violence victims can take “safe” leave to get out of dangerous situations. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
As a parent of two young kids, an issue that is particularly relevant for me is affordable childcare. My colleagues and I recently voted to expand the childcare subsidy to 30% of the market rate survey in 2020 and to step it up to 60% by 2022. It benefits all sectors of our economy to provide safe, affordable childcare, as well as pre-K programs, so that children are ready to enter the school system, poised for success.