Baker/Navarro Road Map for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity in Maryland
The Baker/Navarro Campaign is committed to developing a navigable roadmap for greater equity, inclusion, and diversity for all Marylanders. Led by At-Large Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin, a team of advisory committee members have been working for several months to develop a plan to accomplish these critical goals. The advisory committee is composed of business and community leaders with a track record of success; they are well positioned to provide the Baker/Navarro team with the best insight on how to create a meaningful agenda that leads to the desired outcomes.
“I am thrilled that Rushern Baker plans to release the most comprehensive equity and inclusion agenda for black families that I have ever seen. It is a true privilege for me to offer ideas to support his campaign for Governor and I’m truly excited that he will build a stronger and greater Maryland. Franklin continued by stating that, “some of the inspiration for the Baker Equity and Inclusion Agenda comes from the black agenda proposed during the most recent session of the General Assembly by Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County). Baker’s agenda will seek to build substantially on the successes achieved by Speaker Jones and the Legislative Black Caucus and implement an expansive agenda to uplift black families across the state.”
Among others on the committee are Robert Bruce, CEO and President of Medtec, a Maryland healthcare information technology firm; Brunson Cooper, Managing Director of Corenic, a Maryland construction company; and Dr. Daryl Thorne, EdD, LCPC, NCC, Assistant Professor on issues relating to inclusion, diversity, social justice issues at Trinity Washington University.
Dr. Thorne states: “I am excited to be part of a team dedicated to ensuring the well-being of an inclusive and equitable Maryland. I have been enacting an agenda centered on honoring the continuum of diversity for 20+ years. As an academic and professional, I have the unique ability to challenge the status quo while honing in on humanity. Helping the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Maryland ensure all Marylanders are represented, seen, and heard is crucial for the prosperity of the state.”
With a planned roll-out for later this year, selected highlights of the Roadmap will include:
Establish a Baker/Navarro Black Business Agenda to Increase Business Opportunities in Maryland
● Make Maryland the Black Business Startup Capital of the Nation with a new $100 million Small and Minority Business Growth Fund for start-up, early-stage, and micro-businesses. It will also relax bonding requirements and expand bonding assistance for black firms, so they aren’t shut out of contracting opportunities; 50% of the awards in the form of grants and 50% in the form of no-interest loans.
Create Jobs, Increase Access to Homeownership, and Reduce the Racial Wealth Gap
● Establish Innovation Centers in black and brown communities in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Western Maryland, and the Eastern Shore to create technology hubs for commercializing cutting edge research. The plan will also develop and bring jobs to communities in 21st century industries like quantum computing.
● Create a New Local Hiring Requirement for State Projects and State Assisted Developments.
● Help our seniors and veterans stay in their homes with a new rental and mortgage assistance program.
Create More Equity in Higher Academic Achievement
● Support black higher education by doubling funding for HBCUs; adopting a Thornton-Kirwan-type formula to guarantee lasting HBCU funding; eliminating the waiting list for the MD Promise Scholarship Program; making the MD Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit refundable up to $5000 per borrower; and ensuring a signature skilled trades pipeline in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities.
● Expand the use of public-private partnerships to dramatically increase school construction investment and fully fund the Kirwan Education Funding Plan.
Create Healthier Communities for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)
● Provide new business income tax incentives for attracting new grocery stores and healthier restaurants (restaurants that offer the option of a healthy meal menu).
● Make healthcare more affordable by ensuring that all Maryland families have access to a federally qualified health center that provides dental care; pursue a public insurance option through Medicare For All, use income tax incentives to attract doctors and nurses to underserved areas; protect families from medical debt; and combine the state’s buying power across all programs to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Improve Public Safety Through Investing in Communities, Legalizing Adult-Use Cannabis, and Assisting Returning Citizens
● Create a Transforming Maryland Initiative (TMI) to identify the highest need areas in the state. This investment will enhance state health, human and social services resources to improve quality of life and public safety.
● Give returning citizens a real second chance by prohibiting old convictions from stopping them from being hired, give businesses a new financial incentive to hire them, and register those leaving incarceration to vote.
● Legalize adult-use cannabis and automatically expunge past marijuana convictions but ensure that BIPOC businesses and residents have equity ownership in new cannabis businesses.
● Fully implement Anton’s Law (adding transparency to police misconduct records) and other sweeping police reforms passed in 2021 by the General Assembly (i.e., universal body cameras and automatic Attorney General review of in-custody deaths) and go further by banning No-Knock Warrants.
Reduce Environmental Racism and Promote the Green Economy
● Designate environmentally sensitive saturation zones where carbon emitting uses shall be limited, especially near black and brown communities with a significant concentration of industrial and other high carbon emitting activities.
● Establish signature clean energy training programs in community colleges in black and brown communities connected to local school systems, green businesses, and local unions.
● Require that carbon emitting electricity generating infrastructure, like power plants and power stations, comply with local zoning laws and require a full phase out of coal-fired power plants in the state by 2030.
The Campaign has planned a comprehensive roll-out by the end of November.
Links to resources:
● Campaign website