Swipe left to right to view Ben Brooks' Priorities:
Education, Economic Growth, and the Environment
Maryland schools used to consistently rank number one in the nation. Now, we are ranked 6th. Investment in our children and their education is the best way to invest in our future. When they succeed, we will succeed.
In my first term as District 10 state delegate, I worked with colleagues to improve schools through measures such as reforming how school construction decisions are made and banning the use of suspension with younger students (pre-K through 2nd grade).
While we made strides towards improving our schools, we have more work to do. In order to get our schools back to number one, we need to invest in our educators, facilities, and programs.
To recruit and retain the best teachers, we must provide teachers with more classroom support. Support must include more training, smaller class sizes, and services to assist teachers with students who, because of emotional and behavioral problems, disrupt the classroom.
In order to create cohesive learning environments, our schools need to be fully funded and well kept. I was proud to support legislation that implements the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and seeks to transform our State’s education system to the levels of high performing education systems worldwide. Key policies including expanding early childhood education for 3- and 4-year-olds; promoting college and career readiness; closing the achievement gap; expanding career opportunities for teachers; and providing $2.2 billion in school construction funding.
Supportive programs like pre-kindergarten, summer and afterschool programs, are essential to ensuring our students—particularly those at a higher risk of dropping out or who face additional challenges such as cognitive or learning disabilities—can thrive.
As a small business owner in Baltimore County, I know that quality of life begins with economic prosperity. Much of economic growth depends on private enterprise but there are many policies and initiatives we can pursue on a state level to assure an environment where businesses can prosper and create jobs.
In my position on the Economic Matters Committee, I have worked hard to balance the needs of employees and workers with that of businesses and growing industries. To be a competitive economy, Maryland does not only need job growth and economic development, but also living wages, equal access to jobs, and a diverse, well-trained workforce. This requires investment in pipelines and infrastructure.
We must prioritize job training in our K-12 public schools as well as post-graduate studies and trade schools. Apprenticeship programs need support and investment to increase the pipeline of skilled labor markets. During a shortage 2020 legislative session, I was able to introduce and get enacted HB1029, which alters the definition of clean energy industry and expands the list of professions that are eligible for funds from the Maryland Energy Investment Fund. And, further, requires fund to be allocated for the recruitment of veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals into apprenticeship programs.
Our workers deserve a living wage that is indexed to inflation, so their buy power does not stagnate.
Small businesses need the tools to cooperate and remain compliant as regulations change. I have sponsored legislation to implement recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Businesses including online notifications about potential regulation changes and the creation of a compliance guide.
Our environment is our best resource and must be protected for generations to come. During my first term in the House of Delegates, I have worked hard to find dynamic solutions to issues that impact natural resources, including pollution, energy production, and conversation.
Maryland is home to the largest estuary in the country, with a watershed stretching across 6 states and over 50 tributaries. Protecting this water is paramount to the health of our economy and quality of life. I was proud to co-sponsor the ban on fracking but I believe there is more work to do.
We must continue forward with programs that educate Marylanders about runoff impact.
We need to work collaboratively to encourage strong rainwater management practices. This will require cooperative work between policymakers, regulators, and property owners.
Investing in improving water management infrastructure and modernizing drinking water treatment plants is a crucial step in ensuring safe drinking water is accessible to all in Maryland.
In order to improve air quality, we must look at the sources of pollution and find alternatives. To curb the impacts of global warming on our air quality and quality of life, we must shift our behaviors.
We must shift our energy dependence away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy. Investment in solar, wind, and biomass projects is not only an investment in a sustainable energy portfolio; it is also an investment in a sustainable economy.
Maryland must continue to commit itself to Maryland Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act.
Improvements in public transportation must be prioritized to facilitate smart growth, support job growth, and reduce air pollution.
Because I believe in the importance of preserving land and forests in Maryland, I was proud to support and vote in favor of the Forest Conservation Act of 2018. To build on the work we’ve done, there are several policies to pursue.
Partnerships with our farmers will allow us to preserve open spaces while promoting Maryland’s largest industry and improving access to fresh and healthy choices Maryland families.
Conservation of land in the form of wildlife management areas and public parks offers advantages to quality of life including ecological benefits as well as recreational opportunities for Marylanders. During the 2022 legislative session I supported the Great Maryland Outdoors Act, which boosts investment in state parks.
When approaching land use, state policymakers need to work with federal and local partners to balance land conservation and responsible development. This will help increase property values, assist with water filtration, and decrease pollution.