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Wes Moore plans to push ahead on these priorities after he’s officially Maryland’s governor

Wes Moore_Election 2022 Maryland Governor
Julio Cortez/AP
/
AP
Democrat Wes Moore speaks to supporters during an election night gathering after he was declared the winner of the Maryland gubernatorial race, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Democrat Wes Moore will be inaugurated Wednesday as Maryland’s 63rd governor, giving his party the greatest power it has had in Annapolis in eight years and making history as the state’s first Black governor.

In a recent interview with WYPR, he shared the first things he plans to do after he officially takes office.

The state constitution requires Moore to introduce his proposed budget for next fiscal year no later than Jan. 20, this Friday, so that will necessarily be one of his first acts as governor. Moore said his budget will follow up on several campaign promises.

“When we talked about things like being able to address child poverty, being able to make sure that our state is more competitive and also more equitable, and ensuring that we are going to address this historic number of vacancies that we are seeing in state government, which is having disastrous impacts on everyday Marylanders, we mean that,” Moore said.

He said he plans to start implementing policy changes quickly, using every tool at his disposal — the budget, executive orders, legislation and the bully pulpit.

When pressed to name a single top priority, Moore said economic mobility. He used a phrase repeated frequently throughout his campaign: “work, wages and wealth.”

First, work.

“How are we thinking about job retraining and job reskilling and making sure that we're addressing the space in between the available jobs in Maryland and the people who are filing for unemployment?” he asked. “Right now we have two available jobs for every single person filing for unemployment.”

Second, wages.

“Gone should be the days that we have Marylanders who are working jobs, and in some cases multiple jobs, and still living at or below a poverty line,” he said. “And we believe getting to the $15 minimum wage and getting it done in two years is too slow. It needs to happen this year.”

Third, wealth.

“We believe in supporting our entrepreneurs and our small businesses,” he said. “We believe in this idea of ownership, and that also includes homeownership and providing more supports for that.”

One of Moore’s other priorities is filling a record number of jobs at state government agencies that were left vacant during Gov. Larry Hogan’s time in office. He said one of the agencies most in need of staff is the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, specifically the Division of Parole and Probation.

“It's very difficult to have a conversation about public safety when a third of all violent offenders are in violation of parole and probation, and we don't have people who are there to actually do the job and do the work,” he said.

He also highlighted nursing shortages in Maryland Department of Health facilities.

“But just the larger goal of being able to fill these vacancies and right-size our state government to better serve Marylanders is a core priority,” he said.

Throughout the campaign, Moore spoke about the need to expand access to transit. An issue paper on his campaign website describes how difficult it is for a transit-dependent resident of West Baltimore, for example, to get to a job at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

When it comes to paying for that transit expansion, he said he plans to rely on a combination of state and federal funding and private-sector partners.

He said his administration is specifically looking at new transit to carry people along an east-west corridor in Baltimore City — much like the Red Line light rail project that Hogan canceled would have.

“You cannot have economic mobility if you do not have physical mobility,” he said.

Rachel Baye is a reporter for WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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