No plan for economic development can succeed if it leaves people behind — including and especially those groups who have historically been excluded from economic growth and wealth creation. That’s why, a King-Siri Administration will prioritize policies that close our racial wealth gap, tackle systemic disparities, and ensure that future prosperity is shared equitably among all Maryland communities.
Close the Racial Wealth Gap
Wealth inequality in the United States is already reaching historic highs. And in Maryland, as in the country more broadly, centuries of slavery, discrimination, and mass criminalization have compounded this inequity and injustice. Today, white families have 10 times more wealth than African American families and 8 times more wealth than Latino families. Black and Hispanic families are five times less likely to receive large gifts and inheritances. And when they do receive gifts, the amounts involved are significantly smaller.
This racialized inequality has stark consequences for Maryland families and communities. Wealth accumulation whether you can attend college, afford a first home, or spend your working years slogging through school debt—all of which is why, once elected, a King-Siri administration will prioritize policies to close the wealth gap and ensure that all Marylanders can build toward their futures.
- Create a program of baby bonds. Given the inequitable distribution of wealth today, Maryland must enact policies that begin closing this gap. Baby bonds are a critical step in this direction—which is why, as described in the Agenda for Building Women’s Economic Dignity, John and Michelle propose a program of baby bonds that would give children $1,000 at birth and additional deposits of as much as $2,000 each year. According to research, this program alone could reduce the wealth held by young white adults from 15 to 1.6 times the wealth held by young Black adults.
- Create a fund that provides down payment assistance to communities that were formerly redlined. Homeownership has played a critical role in helping American families build wealth. And yet, throughout our history, home ownership was all but denied to too many Black communities. While “redlining” practices made government-backed mortgages unavailable in many Black neighborhoods, restrictive covenants and other discriminatory policies—public and private—denied many Black families the chance to own their homes and begin building capital. A King-Siri administration would create a program, modeled around the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, which would provide grants to low-income individuals who live in communities that were formerly redlined. Through this program, first-time homebuyers would receive financial support to cover down payments and closing costs so that they could buy a home in any Maryland neighborhood—a design that could boost thousands of Marylanders’ economic opportunities while taking a “monumental step forward” toward closing our racial wealth gap.
- Utilize our creation of a state bank. The reality of state finances causes even worthwhile investments to go unmade. Chartering a state bank could directly tackle this significant barrier to financial stability, even while creating new financing streams for public investments like social housing, community enterprises, green projects, and more. A King-Siri Administration will lead the creation of a state-level public bank that is explicitly committed to racial equity, environmental sustainability, economic dignity, and reinvests all profits to serve the public interest. The bank will have a lending program that matches this public mandate; will invest in existing loan funds and other financial institutions that serve community interests; and, importantly, focus on under-banked Maryland communities.
- Pursue fair share taxation. Our tax system is not fair or equitable for all Maryland residents. In fact, low- and middle-income Marylanders are shouldering a disproportionate share of our state load, so the tax code is increasing the already-huge economic gap between the wealthy few and other Marylanders. And many wealthy corporations pay little or nothing in state taxes. The King-Siri team knows that people are more likely to trust their governments and support their governments when they feel that the system is just. So, as governor, John would work to make sure that the system truly is.
During the pandemic, while essential workers and vulnerable populations struggled to meet their daily needs, nine Maryland billionaires, all white men, increased their wealth by $12.4 billion—that amount of money could single-handedly have paid for our vulnerable populations and seniors, our environment and natural resources, and our public education and local libraries budgets for all Maryland local governments combined.
A King-Siri Administration would work to enact commonsense, widely supported reforms to begin addressing these issues. First, Maryland can ensure that corporations pay their fair share by closing existing loopholes. For example, nearly two dozen states already utilize “combined reporting” to ensure that wealthy corporations pay their fair share in taxes. Second, Maryland can ensure that its tax system is fair and equitable, especially for those who have the least. We will require millionaires to pay a higher income tax rate and tax the very largest inheritances. We can then invest those proceeds in critical state services and in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs to reduce taxes and increase wealth held by low- and middle-income families.
Fully Support All Maryland Communities
Throughout history, our swiftest economic advances and policy successes have left many communities behind. The New Deal created economic security for millions, but left many Black Americans—especially Black women—excluded from this safety net. The G.I. bill and cheap mortgages explicitly excluded Black communities, even while new highways tore these same neighborhoods apart. And many social programs still remain unavailable to immigrants, harm survivors, and other communities that have too often been marginalized in policymaking circles.
A King-Siri administration will keep these communities front and center in all policy decisions. As Governor, John will not only implement policies to address these longstanding injustices, but also will implement guardrails so that all future economic advances are shared equally across all Maryland communities.
- Invest in robust reentry supports while dismantling criminal-legal injustice. The criminal-legal system is a stain on our democracy, including our commitment to fundamental fairness and human dignity. Addressing criminal-legal injustice will be a core priority of a King-Siri administration. But beyond addressing criminal-legal injustice writ large, the King-Siri administration will enact robust policies that immediately support financial inclusion for formerly incarcerated individuals.
As described in our plan for Building Women’s Economic Equity, a King-Siri administration would pursue “ban the box” for housing that would address discrimination against this community. A King-Siri administration would expand funding for entrepreneurship supports, helping formerly incarcerated individuals to launch independent businesses and cooperatives. Our administration would use its contracting authority to prioritize businesses that affirmatively hire formerly incarcerated individuals and other groups facing employment barriers. It would order a state commission to examine occupational licensing barriers, unlocking opportunities across myriad sectors. And it would create pilot programs of navigators who can help reentering individuals to find and access much-needed supports, including driver’s licenses and other IDs.
- Building women’s economic equity, and becoming the first state to close the gender pay gap. As outlined in our plan for Building Women’s Economic Equity, a King-Siri administration will work to undo the deep inequity affecting women in our economy by becoming the first state to close the gender pay gap, ensure safe and accessible workplaces, strengthen financial assistance and tax credits for families and prioritize quality of life and economic dignity.
- Expand Office of Small, Minority and Women Business affairs and reform procurement to meet MWBE goals. Maryland is not meeting its 29% goal for contracts going to minority-owned firms. A King-Siri administration will actually take our procurement goals seriously, make the process transparent and less reliant on existing connections, and aim to surpass the 29% goal.
- Invest robustly in immigrant communities. One in every seven Maryland residents was born outside of the United States and one in every eight Maryland residents has one parent who was. These immigrant communities are a vital piece of our state fabric, filling nearly a third of our healthcare support jobs and other critical roles. And yet, we too often fail to support these individuals when state and federal policies put them directly at risk—or simply fail to address their needs.
A King-Siri Administration will substantially increase resources for immigrant legal services, including deportation defense. We will do everything possible to ensure that families can stay together, not be callously torn apart—as has happened so frequently and so vividly in recent years. We will ensure that state programs are open to individuals who have EINs, allowing immigrant communities to benefit.
- Fully support harm survivors. We often say that harm survivors are the focus of our public safety institutions—but the reality is just the opposite. Our state and our country have broadly failed to center harm survivors when designing our policies or resourcing our support systems. The time has come to end this contradiction and begin listening to what survivors actually want and need.
A King-Siri Administration would invest robustly in financial supports that survivors need, including cash assistance, housing vouchers, and workforce programs that support survivors’ agency and financial autonomy. We will work to pass policies that end counterproductive housing policies, including policies that penalize or evict survivors for events that they could not control. And, importantly, we would create a state program that fully resources local offices of survivor supports that make re-grants to community-based, survivor-centered organizations that address survivor needs without going through the criminal-legal system.
Enact a racial and gender equity screen. The policies described here would take significant strides to dismantle racial, gender, and other inequities. But advancing equity does not begin or end with a particular policy platform; advancing equity requires an ongoing, comprehensive commitment to change. The King-Siri administration would make exactly this commitment. As governor, John would require that all legislative and major administrative proposals undergo a racial equity screen that asks important questions—who the policy will most and least benefit, how the policy accounts for racially disparate outcomes, whether the policy will advance opportunity for communities of color, and more. It is only when race and gender are factored into all of our policy decisions, not just “gender” or “race” policies, that our state can begin to address its longstanding inequities and build toward a stronger, more equitable future.