2007 Public Policy Agenda

JOTF advocates legislation and budget proposals that can improve the economic opportunities of Maryland's low-skill, low-income workers and their families. Our advocacy work stems from a recognition that a healthy Maryland economy requires public policies that meet the workforce needs of employers while promoting better skills, jobs, and wages for low-income Marylanders, particularly people of color.

During the 2007 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that support adult education, family-friendly workplace policies, ex-offender employment, income supports for working families, state funding for workforce training, greater access to drivers licenses for working adults, and higher wages for low-income workers.

 

 

ADULT EDUCATION

Nearly one million Marylanders are in need of basic literacy, GED, or ESOL services. Maryland's investment in adult education currently lags far behind most other states. Increasing the State's share of adult education funding would carry substantial benefits to individuals, families, and the workforce.

Solution
Expand state investment in adult education as recommended by the Superintendent's Panel on Adult Education.
 

 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE POLICIES

Managing work and care for young or elderly family members is a fact of life for most Marylanders. Nationally, of workers with paid sick days, less than one in three can use their leave when their child gets sick. Businesses that offer flexible leave benefits profit from lower turnover and training costs, and higher levels of productivity and customer satisfaction.

Solution
Promote family-friendly sick leave policies: Allow workers to use their accrued leave to care for an ill child, parent, or spouse.

 

 

INCOME SUPPORTS

One-sixth of Maryland's working families earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold. Over 384,000 Maryland workers hold jobs that pay less than the federal poverty wage for a full-time worker in a family of four.

Solutions
Child Support Incentive Program: Promote mainstream employment among non-custodial parents who owe child support arrearages to the state: establish a statewide debt-leveraging plan for obligors who meet their current child support obligations to custodial parents.

Earned Income Credit: Increase the state refundable portion of the earned income credit from 20 to 25 percent of the federal credit.

 

 

EX-OFFENDER EMPLOYMENT

Approximately 15,000 former inmates return annually from state prisons to communities throughout the state. Many ex-prisoners leave with low levels of education and little mainstream work experience. By adequately preparing inmates for employment, Maryland can increase public safety, lower recidivism, and help businesses find job-ready workers.

Solution
Criminal Record Expungement: Expand access to the criminal history record expungement process in order to reduce employment barriers among low-income job seekers.


 

WORKFORCE TRAINING

Maryland's workforce development system is currently facing a funding crisis. Funds to support this system come from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Workforce Investment Act; however, funds have been cut by 40% since 2000.

Solution
Establish state invesment in worker training in order to secure a more skilled and competitive workforce.

 
 

DRIVER'S LICENSES

Maryland has some of the most extensive driver's licensing requirements in the nation. In fact, Maryland is the only state that requires new drivers of all ages to complete the same driver's education and practice requirements. Most significantly, all new drivers must complete 60 hours of supervised practice, in addition to 36 hours of driver's education, before being eligible for a license. This law has created a new barrier to mobility and employment for low-income adults.

Solution
Amend the 60 hour rule so that it applies only to young drivers.
 
For more information contact Melissa Chalmers Broome at 410-234-8046 or melissa@jotf.org

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