2006 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 2006 state legislative session, JOTF will support legislative and budget initiatives that support adult education, ex-offender employment, income supports for working families, and higher wages for low-income workers.
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.
- Expand state investment in adult education as recommended by the Superintendent’s Panel on Adult Education.
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.
- Certificates of Employability: Develop a state credential to lower employment barriers for transitioning inmates who have completed a prescribed course of programming.
- Criminal Record Expungement: Expand access to the criminal history record expungement process in order to reduce employment barriers among low-income job seekers.
- Inmate Construction Training Initiative: Establish a building trades training program for inmates in specified state correctional institutions.
- Transitional Services: Increase sites, staff, and resources for education, training, and counseling programs within state prisons.
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.
- 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.
- Temporary Cash Assistance Benefits: Ensure that families receiving public assistance meet a minimum household income standard: increase TCA benefits so that the income of recipient families reaches the statutorily required 61 percent of MD’s Minimum Living Level.
- Unemployment Insurance: Modernize the unemployment insurance (UI) system to provide adequate coverage to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
- Minimum Wage: Support override of the gubernatorial veto of legislation to raise the state minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.15 per hour.
Each year Maryland gives businesses millions of dollars in tax abatements and loans designed to create jobs for residents, among other benefits. JOTF supports increased accountability and transparency in the economic development system through adequate reporting and monitoring of the outcomes of these business incentives.
- Adopt a disclosure policy requiring businesses that receive state economic development subsidies to report the number and quality of jobs created and retained; require that the state make this information publicly available.
For more information contact Jason Perkins-Cohen at 410-234-8045.