Maryland’s Nation-Leading Progress
Yesterday, Governor O’Malley delivered his eighth State of the State address, focused on our work as a State over the last seven years to be fiscally-responsible, strengthen and grow our middle class and create jobs for more Maryland families.
Throughout the speech, the Governor spoke about a central pillar to our progress as a State: accountability. He pointed out that the test of any policy, action, or expenditure has been whether or not it is actually working to produce the intended results.
We see the results of that test in the presence of a Maryland family, an Eastern Shore manufacturer, and a community college president, all of whom have benefited from strategic policy actions established just last year: The Veteran’s Full Employment Act and the EARN Maryland Program.
Better Choices for Families
Sandra Rolph, an active-duty Army nurse, came to Maryland with her husband, Rob and daughter, Megan, from North Carolina, where she was previously stationed. They chose Maryland for the top-rated schools, but Rob faced challenges using his master electrician’s license in their new home state. Their situation was further complicated by their daughter’s fight against Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body.
The Veteran’s Full Employment Act ensures that we do right by veterans who sacrificed so much for us overseas, by removing the bureaucratic barriers to full employment here at home. Thanks to the VFEA, which covers veterans and their spouses, Rob secured his Master Electrician License in just two days. The license enabled Rob to have a schedule flexible enough for him to take Megan to critical doctors appointments during the day. Today, Megan is enjoying her junior year in Montgomery County Public Schools and their family is thriving.
The Right to EARN
In a presentation on income disparities yesterday, Mark Zandi, a nationally-recognized voice in economics, cited strategic partnerships and skills training as essential tools to growing local economies and addressing income disparities. On the Eastern Shore, we’re taking charge of jobs training programs by directly connecting employers, community colleges and worker advocate groups in partnership. The EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) program equips students at community colleges such as Chesapeake College with training tailored to the needs of manufacturers like Cambridge International. Strategic collaborations like EARN empower Marylanders with the skills they need to find family-sustaining jobs in our new economy.
Our Work Continues
While we’ve made tremendous progress, there’s still more work to be done to honor the dignity of Maryland families. That work continues in our mission to raise the minimum wage; together, we can forge consensus and continue to grow Maryland’s economy from the middle out.