Democrat for County Council District 1
 

Revitalizing the Economy

Montgomery County is underachieving economically – growth in new business establishments is almost dead last in the Washington region. Between 2011 and 2016, the region’s 24 local jurisdictions collectively recorded a net gain of 13,939 establishments. D.C. and Fairfax County added more than 3,000 each. Prince George’s County added 361. Montgomery County had a net gain of just 6. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, analyzed by Seventh State, 3/29/18)

 
 

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Tax and Budget

The budget is the Council’s biggest responsibility – a vehicle for deciding who we are as a community and investing in our priorities. In order to fund those priorities, Montgomery County must continue to be fiscally healthy. That means preserving our AAA bond rating, raising sufficient revenue to fund government obligations and services, and not spending beyond our means.

As a tax lawyer, I know no one likes to pay taxes. But when they’re used right, tax revenues benefit everyone in our community.

We need significant revenue to ensure that our schools and teachers have the resources they need to educate our growing, diverse student population; invest in our transportation infrastructure to support economic development, protect the environment, and enhance our quality of life; and, especially now that Congress is cutting federal funds for the safety net, maintain the services our residents need.  

A revitalized economy will create increased good job opportunities, more customers for local businesses, and more income taxes coming into county coffers. Then we won’t need to rely exclusively on property taxes – government services and funding for nonprofits won’t be at such great risk if the housing market faces a downturn, and residents and businesses won’t be faced with ever-increasing tax rates.

In addition, as a long-time advocate for women and families, especially low-income women, I recognize that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the most effective anti-poverty measure we have. It not only boosts incomes directly but also encourages work, which raises earnings to help families meet their basic needs and increases demand for businesses in the community.

This year, the Maryland General Assembly removed the age requirement for the tax credit as it applies to workers who don’t have children. Previously, a person had to be at least 25 or have children in order to receive any credit. Now our state and local EITC will help young, low-income, working Marylanders put aside savings, pay for career training, or pay for one-time costs like car repairs.  

A growing body of research links income from the EITC to better infant health, improved school performance, higher college enrollment, and increased work and earnings in adulthood for children whose families receive the tax credits. I encourage the county to make sure that those who are eligible know about the refundable EITC available at federal, state, and local levels.


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Jobs

Job creation depends on employer growth and success.

It’s especially important that the Council discuss proposed legislation with those who would be impacted by it before proposals are introduced. We also have to look closely at our regulatory structure to make it easier to start and run a business in the county.  

I include nonprofits among our valued employers in the County.

I’m a tax attorney, with a solo private practice focusing on the nonprofit sector. I’ve helped numerous nonprofit clients in their efforts to grow and succeed by providing legal advice on tax-exempt organization and operation, board governance, unrelated business taxable income (UBIT), corporate sponsorship agreements, and many other issues of concern to nonprofits. Nonprofits are businesses. They have employees. Sometimes they are among the largest employers in the area. And we need them to succeed so that they can provide the services the county cannot.

As a Member of the Board of the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, I appreciate the strength of the creative economy, and I’m proud to be part of its growth.

The arts foster a sense of community, preserve the richness of our culture, and add beauty to our lives. They also add to economic vitality by creating jobs for local artists, actors, and administrators, increasing property values, and providing patrons for local artists, arts venues, and businesses near them. In 2015 alone, the nonprofit arts and culture sector pumped over $183 million into our local economy, supported over 3,800 local jobs, and generated almost $66 million in household income for local residents.


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Amazon

I fully support county efforts to recruit Amazon’s HQ2 for Montgomery County. My overriding concern about economic development in the county is that we need to diversify our economy rather than continue our dependence on federal jobs in this region – Amazon’s presence will do just that.

To be eligible for the tax credits approved by the General Assembly, Amazon must spend a minimum of $4.5 million in project costs and fill at least 40,000 jobs with an average compensation of $100,000 or more. These tax credits are really “foregone” income. If Amazon doesn’t locate here, we get 100% of nothing. If Amazon locates its second headquarters in Montgomery County, even with incentives we will get a percentage of something that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

The incentive package comes with $2 billion in state money for transportation infrastructure projects in the county. Again, if Amazon doesn’t choose Montgomery County for its HQ2, we don’t get the state money.


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Workforce and Career Education

To attract and keep businesses in Montgomery County, we need qualified workers.

We must provide our K-12 teachers and our schools with the resources they need to ensure that our students graduate from high school ready to thrive in college or a career, including the jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. 

MCPS career-readiness programs should be expanded to address current economic realities. Not every student needs or wants a four-year degree. A recent Career and Technology Education (CTE) program review stated that K-12 schools should shift from “how do we prepare students for four-year college?” to “how do we prepare students to earn a postsecondary credential that gives them entry into the middle class and beyond?”

Three of our greatest postsecondary resources for workforce development are Montgomery College, the Universities at Shady Grove, and WorkSource Montgomery. Employers also must be welcomed as partners in the effort, to help align programs of study with labor market needs and provide on-the-job training opportunities.


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Minimum Wage

Raising the minimum wage is one of the best tools we have to lift incomes and grow our consumer-driven economy. But in the past 40 years, the federal minimum wage – stuck at $7.25 since 2009 – has lost 30 percent of its value.

I supported last year’s Council compromise, and I support efforts to enact a statewide $15 minimum wage in Maryland.


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Child Care

I was a working mother, and I’m acutely aware that affordable, high-quality child care is essential to enable parents to get and keep a job and to give children a strong start toward success in school and life. This is fundamental to the economic security of women and families and it’s central to the economic health of our county.

Eleven million children younger than age five are in some form of child care in the United States. There are 67,000 children under age five in Montgomery County.

Maryland has the nation’s lowest income threshold for parents to qualify for child care subsidies. So, only the poorest families receive a subsidy, and there is a long wait list. This is shameful.

The need for adequate and affordable child care is one of the most pressing issues facing working parents – a year of child care for a young child can cost more than in-state college tuition. When parents don't have access to affordable child care, it directly affects their ability to participate in the workforce, and that, in turn, affects employers. Some parents who would like to work simply can’t. Their desire to pursue career paths and higher education can be curtailed because child care is too expensive or not available. Especially for working women, child care difficulties can be an obstacle to working full time and the ability to earn higher wages.

Increased educational achievement results in greater earning power and increased productivity in adulthood, more involvement in the fabric of the community, and decreased reliance on government safety net programs. The quality and availability of early care also impacts workplace productivity and absenteeism.

In our concern to provide coverage for working parents and educate our children, we must not lose sight of the child care workers we are trusting to help raise them. They are often working parents themselves, and they deserve a living wage and access to suitable training.

I pledge to make sure that the county examines best practices around the country and identifies what we can do at the local level to expand child care options, availability, and training.


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Land Use

Sprawl development strikes at the heart of our environmental, economic, social, and physical well-being. It’s enormously difficult to reduce our energy use when our homes and workplaces are widely dispersed. Walkable neighborhoods, close to shopping and schools, will enhance livability.

But we need a better balance between density and infrastructure. New development must respect existing neighborhoods. And infrastructure –schools, roads, and transit – must be available or created to serve new development.

I support smart growth -- Transit Oriented Development (TOD) that locates higher intensity development near transit, with decreasing densities as distance from transit increases. Land use and zoning ordinances and regulations should be evaluated for their support of TOD and revised as needed. 

People need public spaces to gather – indoors and out. As part of the effort to strengthen the connection between people and communities, “placemaking” (creating a strong sense of setting, or “place”) positively influences the health and happiness of residents. I support green spaces, safe streets and sidewalks, outdoor seating, and accessible buildings that can be used by people of all ages.