Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
Kojo hosts Maryland’s major lieutenant gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Ken Ulman and Republican Boyd Rutherford, for a debate in WAMU 88.5’s studio.
- Boyd Rutherford Republican Candidate, Lieutenant Governor, Maryland
- Ken Ulman Democratic Candidate, Lieutenant Governor, Maryland; County Executive, Howard County, Maryland
Watch The Full Debate
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Election day is less than three weeks away and Marylanders have choices to make. The state still boasts schools that are the envy of counties across America but it's also a place where unemployment is higher than the national average and where many local economies are flagging.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWe're joined in the studio today by two candidates looking to be Maryland's next lieutenant governor, men who may live in the same county but who are running on tickets with very different visions for the future of the state. Joining me in studio is Boyd Rutherford. He is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Maryland. Boyd Rutherford, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
MR. BOYD RUTHERFORDWell, thanks for having me.
NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Ken Ulman. He is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Maryland. Ken Ulman, thank you for joining us.
MR. KEN ULMANThanks for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIWe'll be taking your questions today over email and twitter throughout the debate. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @kojoshow using #WAMUdebate. We'd like this to be more of a conversation than a rigid question, answer rebuttal affair. And hopefully I'll be able to allow you both ample time to answer all of our questions without having to use a countdown clock of any kind. If your answers however are going on too long, I'll help you to wind down.
NNAMDIOver the course of the hour we will be taking audience questions over email and twitter. As I said, you can reach us at email@example.com or tweet us @kojoshow using #WAMUdebate. Start with what's at the top of the news. People around the region and around the country are alarmed by the possibility of Ebola spreading in the United States from the isolated cases that we've already seen.
NNAMDIToday there are reports that a nurse who was infected while treating an Ebola patient in Dallas may soon be transferred to an NIH unit in Bethesda. From your perspective, what do you think a governor and his team should be doing to make sure that hospitals, health officials, airports, that all of these folks are prepared appropriately? I'll start with you, Ken Ulman.
ULMANSure. You know, and Maryland's had some experience with this. I've had some experience over the last eight years as county executive in Howard County, whether it be H1N1 that was a big scare a few years ago or now certainly Ebola. I have spoken with and met with the president of Howard Community College -- I mean, sorry, Howard County General Hospital and our health officers, our first responders. In fact, we had a tabletop exercise just yesterday. I'll be getting a full briefing on that as well tomorrow. The lieutenant governor has been briefed by the team at DHMH, working with all the hospitals around the state.
ULMANThis is a tough challenge but we need to make sure we all come together. The folks at MEMS, the Maryland Emergency Management folks, our first responders on the ground, those men and women who are part of our EMTs and paramedics all the way through the folks who work in our hospitals. We all have to be on the same page. We all have to be ready. And it's -- you know, this is the kind of time you really need your governor and lieutenant governor and leaders in the state. This is the most important thing that any of us can be involved in in public service is keeping our citizens safe.
RUTHERFORDWell, I agree with a lot of what Ken just said. It is very important to make sure that the first responders are educated, that those and the health care community understand what are the appropriate protocols to follow. An additional area is making sure that the public is aware of what is going on in terms of how the disease is possibly transmitted, being honest with the public. I'm not saying anyone's being dishonest but a lot of fear come about when there's a lack of information that comes out.
RUTHERFORDKen mentioned H1N1. That was a very good exercise for a lot of agencies. When I was in the federal government we were very concerned about H1N1. And we had many exercises with regard to how we were going to handle those situations. And it's good that that is happening at the state and local level as well.
NNAMDIThis studio is just a few minutes down the street from Chevy Chase, one of the wealthiest parts of Montgomery County. If you peel further away to the north and east and in the direction of Howard Count where you both live, you can find yourselves going through pockets of poverty in places like the Briggs Chaney neighborhood. To what do you attribute the wealth disparities we can see by studying places like east and west Montgomery County and others across the state? And what are your teams willing to offer to reduce those disparities, Boyd Rutherford?
RUTHERFORDWell, one of the things that we have to do is we have to create an environment where we have growth. And growth in terms of jobs, job creation, entrepreneurialship. What we had unfortunately over the last several years is a series of taxes and fees as well as a regulatory structure that has hurt that growth. And that way when we reverse some of that, of course after getting the budget under control, we can grow the economy and assure good jobs for individuals.
RUTHERFORDNow at the same time, we have to have a good safety net for individuals who are in difficult straits but we have to make sure that our education system and training systems, such as vocational training, is there and available for those who are not going to go to college. Ken and I have the real benefit of living in Howard County where our schools are very good.
RUTHERFORDI moved to Howard County 20 years ago because of the schools. We need to make sure that that is also available in other jurisdictions throughout the state. There's no reason that some of our schools, Baltimore City, to a certain extent Prince George's County, tend to have a lot of underperforming schools. And we need to make sure that all schools are as good as Howard County's.
NNAMDIBefore I get Ken Ulman to answer the same question, you began by talking about taxes. Tell us more explicitly what you mean about how taxes or the tax situation in Maryland now is working to increase that disparity in income.
RUTHERFORDWell, yes. Well, what it does is it drives jobs out of the state. We've lost 8,000 businesses in this state over the last seven-and-a-half years. Some of that is due to the fact that it costs less to do business in some of our surrounding states like Virginia. It's very easy to go across the river and have business in Virginia, particularly now in a more service economy. You can do business in Maryland but don't have to be housed here.
RUTHERFORDAlso the regulatory structure makes it difficult for businesses to expand. Now this is anecdotal but we've talked to many people, particularly a technology company I talked to just recently here in Montgomery County, that he's thinking of moving across the river because he said it's much easier for him to do business in Fairfax County than Montgomery County. And he's going to take his jobs with it.
RUTHERFORDSo it's those types of things that need to be addressed. And many of the taxes that have been implemented over the last several years hit the lowest income levels harder. They are very aggressive, as they say, sales tax, gasoline tax. And the gas tax will continue to go up because they've pegged it to inflation.
NNAMDIBoyd Rutherford's running mate has been accusing your running mate, the current lieutenant governor Anthony Brown, of being part of an administration that is a part of this regulatory and tax structure. How do you respond, and also you can address the question of how to deal with disparities.
ULMANSure. You know, frankly the last Republican administration we had in Maryland that both of our opponents were part of, jacked up the property tax and titling fees and created the flush tax. And so there are -- so they've done their part in raising taxes and fees. And, you know, we've had some tough times in the great recession. Every state in this country, every community in this country has had some tough times coming out of the great recession.
ULMANMaryland's come through it stronger than most states in the country. Just this year have created 16,000 new jobs, triple A bond rated, one of only six -- used to be seven. Now Kansas got downgraded so one of only six states in the nation with a triple A bond rating, highest media in household income of any state in the nation. We've got some real strengths. We've got to build on those strengths.
ULMANAnd the way you built on those strengths, and getting to your question -- your first question about income inequalities and disparities, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and I really believe that the way to do that is to invest in education and make sure that every single child in every corner of Maryland has an opportunity to world class education. It starts with universal voluntary pre-K where the first phase of that just went into -- just went in thanks to Anthony Brown's leadership in Annapolis this past session. It's increased investment in K through 12.
ULMANYou just had Josh Starr on talking about smart ways to invest, to improve our public schools. School construction has to be a major piece of that, a major difference between the two campaigns on this -- in this race is pre-K. They say we can't afford it. We say we can't afford not to. School construction, you're going to see an increased commitment to school construction. We can't wait to roll up our sleeves and work with Josh Starr and work with Kevin Maxwell in Prince George's County and with Sherm Baker and Ike Leggett and their county councils and delegations to come up with new flexible tools to leverage additional investment in school construction.
ULMANOur opponents have said that their plan calls for cutting $450 million statewide out of school construction. We want to make more progress. They want to roll it back. We also have a commitment to...
RUTHERFORDI say that that part is ridiculous.
ULMANWell, we can talk about that in a moment, I'm sure, when I'm done.
NNAMDIYou only have 15 second left.
ULMANSure. But I would also say higher education is a real commitment. The last Republican administration that these folks were a part of raised college tuition by over 40 percent. But over the last eight years, Maryland has held higher education more affordable than any state in the nation. And that's important for opportunities.
NNAMDIYou wanted to respond?
RUTHERFORDYeah, a couple of things. One, it's quite ridiculous to say that we're going to eliminate $450 million from school construction. The total school construction budget is $450 million. Ken, I don't know if you know it or not, but I sat on the committee for interagency committee for school construction when I was secretary to Maryland Department of General Services. I know the importance of school construction and the budget. What we're talking about is the waste that's within the school construction budget, not the total amount that's going to come out.
RUTHERFORDWith regard to affordability, college board recently ranked the schools -- or ranked the jurisdiction states with regard to affordability. And Maryland's really in the middle of the pack when you include fees. You know, the tuition has been going up at a low rate but the fees have gone up substantially. We have higher costs than New York, North Carolina, as well as Florida. We're about in the middle of the pack when it comes to that.
RUTHERFORDBut one of the big differences though is over the last seven years, Mr. Brown and the folks in Annapolis have changed the Cade formula, which is a formula that affects the community colleges. They've reduced how much money goes to the community colleges which is the lifeline for many moderate to low-income people to get their kids educated as well as a transition area for those who are changing jobs or want to pick up additional skills, addressing that issue with regard to the poverty and getting good jobs.
NNAMDII want to get to the issue of being able to cut spending and cutting waste. And an editorial endorsing the lieutenant governor for the governor's position, the Washington Post criticized your running mate by saying the trouble is that Mr. Hogan's ideas about spending cuts are slapdash. It turns out that his estimates of waste and mismanagement from past state audits are vastly inflated or that he didn't understand them in the first place. How would you respond?
RUTHERFORDWell, I want to say that what had happened in that situation is like what was mentioned just recently. Mistakes were made with regard to the full amount of the program, like in the school construction. But what we were pointing to was the elements within the program that have been identified by audits over the last several years that have not been acted upon by Mr. Brown or Mr. O'Malley with regard to audits that were found both in the federal and state audits.
RUTHERFORDSo, you know, you can take a number from a different column but the bottom line is there is waste that we've all agreed to. The Brown-Ulman campaign is talking about $1.5 billion in growth and spending cuts. So we agree that there's waste in the system. And it's just addressing it. And they haven't addressed it over the last several years.
ULMANSure. First on college affordability, you know, it was mentioned the National Center for Education -- in fact, the same organization that Boyd just cited actually ranked the State of Maryland number one for keeping college costs down over the past eight years. So we've made a lot of progress, had a lot of time to...
RUTHERFORDNo, I mentioned college boards. I mentioned college boards.
ULMANOh, well, I misspoke then. So a different organization...
ULMAN...calls us number one in t he nation of all 50 states in keeping college affordability low. Frankly, we had a lot of work to do coming out of the 40 percent increases. But back to this plan and the school construction discussion. The Hogan-Rutherford team released a plan, frankly it's the only plan that they released actually on their website with actual numbers, the same one that you referred to the Washington Post called it -- also in that editorial they called it incoherent mush. Because frankly the numbers just didn't add up, it's $1.7 billion worth of savings.
ULMANWhen it was pointed out by independent analysis and journalists that the numbers didn't add up, Larry Hogan responded by saying, I absolutely stand behind the numbers. Well, those numbers did call for $450 million of that $1.7 billion was eliminating school construction funding.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. In case you're just joining us, you're listening to a conversation/debate between the two candidates for lieutenant governor of Maryland. Boyd Rutherford is the Republican nominee, Ken Ulman is the Democratic nominee. We're taking your questions today by email and twitter. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet @kojoshow using #WAMUdebate. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with the two candidates for lieutenant governor of Maryland. Boyd Rutherford is the Republican nominee, Ken Ulman is the Democratic nominee. We're taking your questions by email you can send to email@example.com or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow using #WAMUdebate. We got one tweet from Mike Bistrom who says, "What is each of your positions on raising the minimum wage and will you support further raises?" First you, Ken Ulman.
ULMANOur position -- my position and the lieutenant governor's position, and frankly not just a position, it's what he led -- helped lead the effort on in Annapolis, was raising the minimum wage. Raised it to $10.10. It's phased in over a couple years. Some folks thought it should be higher, some folks thought it should be phased in a little longer. But what came out of a debate between Larry Hogan and Anthony Brown the other day was that Larry Hogan has constantly opposed raising the minimum wage, even questioned whether or not we should have one. Talked about it being for summer jobs for kids.
ULMANAnd so we believed it was the right thing to do. It -- about 450 Marylanders got a raise, hardworking folks who frankly were working 40 hours a week and still making below the poverty line. So the minimum wage is a clear difference between these two campaigns.
RUTHERFORDWell, no one opposes increase in pay. The question had a lot to do with the timing. The economy is struggling. Ken had mentioned a few minutes ago that Maryland is coming out of the recession. Not really. When we have a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country, than the national average we're not coming out of the recession as quickly as some of the other states. Some of the other states have already recovered.
RUTHERFORDOur objection had been the timing of the minimum wage increase. And as was stated, and Larry did state this and I agree with him, the minimum wage was never intended to provide jobs for families. What it was intended for was starter jobs and for teenagers. And when you do increase sharply, when you increase it sharply you do lose those teenage jobs. What we want to do is bring in well-paying jobs for every adult and that's what we think the focus should be.
NNAMDIWhen you say well-paying jobs, what do you mean?
RUTHERFORDI mean jobs that families can live off of and not just retail jobs, not just working. You know, jobs that -- like what I did. My first paycheck job -- I can't say my first job because I delivered the Washington Post, that was my very first job, but my first paycheck job was a dishwasher. And as we were talking about a few minutes ago, I'm an older guy so I was making $1.60 an hour. And I was a teenager. I was in high school and it was good money for me at that time. So that was what the minimum wage was for.
NNAMDIWhy would the minimum wage not deter good paying jobs, Ken Ulman? Why would raising the minimum wage...
RUTHERFORDNow, I didn't say deter. I said our focus is on good-paying jobs. I didn't say it would deter.
NNAMDIWell, I inferred from that that you felt that raising the minimum wage would deter some jobs from coming to the district.
RUTHERFORDNo, that's a wrong inference.
RUTHERFORDI didn't say that that's the case. I said our focus is on good-paying jobs. The challenge with the minimum wage though on the short -- in the short term is that the small business is probably not going to hire the additional person or may have to cut back on hours to meet that. Now overtime they may be able to overcome that by being able to increase prices and things of that nature. But then that minimum wage worker is in the same place five years from now that they were previously.
RUTHERFORDWe need to work on it so that families and people who are taking care of more than themselves, as well as themselves can have an opportunity for well-paying jobs so they can live in Howard County or live in Prince George's or Montgomery County. We're in an expensive part of the country.
NNAMDIMy inference was wrong. What is yours, Ken Ulman?
ULMANWell, first of all, similar to Boyd I have bussed tables at Clyde's Restaurant when I was a young man as well, and sold shoes at the Three Stripe Adidas store in College Park when I was a student at the University of Maryland. So, you know, understand the hard work. I mean, look, every study has shown that if you raise the minimum wage, it actually increases economic output. You're able to put more money into the pockets of hardworking workers here in Maryland especially.
ULMANBut look, that's not our only focus. I mean, we have stated that under the Brown-Ulman administration, if we should be fortunate enough in 19 days to be your next governor and lieutenant governor, that our number one strategic goal is to position Maryland to be the most competitive business climate of any state in the nation. That means investing in infrastructure. That means providing middle class tax relief. That means making sure that we have incentives for startup and entrepreneurial businesses.
ULMANYou know, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for three straight years has named Maryland number one in the nation for its innovation and entrepreneurship economy. We want to build on that so we're not just talking about jobs on the lower end of the spectrum. But at the same time, the fact that somebody can work 40 hours a week and be below the poverty line we think is just wrong.
NNAMDIBut how are you going to do all of this, investing infrastructure, providing middle class tax relief. Your running mate pledged earlier this month that there will be no new taxes in the Brown-Ulman administration. To what degree does that limit the ambition of what you're trying to achieve? Infrastructure investment you mentioned, one of your top priorities, how do you plan to find ways to make those investments with the resources if you don't have any tax raises at all?
ULMANSure. Well, you know, the -- we believe that coming through tough times in order to protect our investment, in education especially, that the citizens of Maryland were asked to do their part and they did. We see no reason to raise taxes in the future. And in fact, we're going to grow this economy by investing and making sure that we are a great place to do business for startup and entrepreneurial companies. And frankly, we're also going to invest in infrastructure. And one of the big differences on this campaign is the Purple Line investment, which I know a lot of your listeners care deeply about.
ULMANThere was a just a rally led by Ike Leggett and folks -- elected officials from Prince George's and Montgomery County today at noon in Silver Spring. You know, you see what Virginia's done with the Silver Line. We have to build the Purple Line. There are job-creating investments ready to be made in Bethesda and Silver Spring and New Carrollton and College Park that depend on this kind of an investment. And we're going to do it by also leveraging the public private partnership framework that Anthony Brown helped lead the way.
ULMANYou mentioned the Washington Post endorsement. They cited his work to create that framework in giving us additional tools to be able to finance significant projects like the Purple Line, something that Larry Hogan had originally said he would cancel on day one. Now he seems to be hedging.
NNAMDII'm going to get to the Purple Line in a second but Royd Burtherford (sic) ...
NNAMDI...Boyd Rutherford -- isn't that amazing how one does that?
RUTHERFORDIt's all right. It's all right.
NNAMDI...that this -- how would describe what your ticket is offering to voters when it comes to taxes other than, well, that taxes are too damn high?
RUTHERFORDThat's part of it. They are too high. I'm not going to use the exact phraseology that you use but they are too high. We don't have to be the lowest tax state in the country or on the east coast but we have to be competitive. And right now we're not competitive. We've increased the taxes such that even the comptroller and the board of revenue estimates is saying that our revenue projections are going to be down by over $400 million -- $405 million over the next two years largely because people are not spending because they're concerned business profits are squeezed because of these taxes. And, as mentioned before, 8,000 business have left the state.
RUTHERFORDSo we have challenges. And, you know, the mention with regard to the entrepreneurial climate in Maryland, it is good. But the problem is that once these companies reach a certain size they move. And I'm going to give you an example. Talking to an economic development person in Hartford County and one of the northern counties and they do a lot around the Aberdeen proving ground.
RUTHERFORDThey were in North Carolina trying to convince a company down there to expand in their county. They ran into the North Carolina economic development people who told them that Maryland is one of their target states. Montgomery County in particular in the biotech corridor because what happens is we develop companies. They reach a certain size or viability and then they get swapped up and they're taken by North Carolina and some of the other states that can offer a better tax climate for them.
NNAMDIGlad you mentioned the Purple Line because we got an email from Lon Anderson of AAA who, as you know, tends to be very wordy. So bear with me for a second here.
RUTHERFORDWe'll sit back.
NNAMDIRight. You've got some time here. "Virginia has been pumping in billions to improve mobility both in mass transit, Silver Line and roads, Beltway 95, da-da-da. Meanwhile, Rip Van Maryland, he calls it, continues its long transportation snore with no real plans to improve its near worst in the nation congestion. Nothing for the beltway nor I-270. The Purple Line would improve mobility for a small population but by MDOT's own numbers will take less than 1 percent of traffic off the beltway. P3s public private partnerships seem to be the way to go for financing. But Maryland is also way behind Virginia in utilizing private monies to improve public mobility.
NNAMDIIf elected lieutenant governor, what actions would you favor to rescue motorists from the commuting purgatory that state inaction has locked them into?" Boyd Rutherford, your opponent here mentioned what your running mate had to say about the Purple Line. The Baltimore Sun quoted him as saying he would cancel the Purple Line because it was too expensive. That was in mid-September. The Sun reported that he also said he would cancel the $2.6 billion light rail Redline project plan for Baltimore. However, in an interview Wednesday on WBL radio he said he was not really opposed to either project and that both are worth considering.
RUTHERFORDWell, they're worth considering but we don't have the money for them. And quite frankly I kind of like the guy from the Triple A. I agree. I mean, the Purple Line is only going to be -- it's going to be a cross-county rail system which may have some value. However, we already have a cross-county inter-county connector that is underutilized. And we think -- we have some plans for increasing utilization there. I would prefer to see we address the traffic problems that we currently have versus adding to traffic problems when the Purple Line takes lanes out of existing surface roads.
RUTHERFORDWidening 270 above -- in the area when you get closer to Frederick is one thing. Rapid bus can be -- is far less expensive than putting fixed rail in place. The 210 corridor going south of Prince George's County and southern Prince George's County into fast-growing Charles County is a parking lot. And I'm glad that it was mentioned, the Silver Line. The Purple Line, even though it has a color to it, it is not part of metro. And I would prefer to see, and Larry and I would prefer to evaluate expanding Metro similar to what Virginia did with the Silver Line.
RUTHERFORDThe Silver Line goes on an existing travel route that's an existing route. So it means that people have the option of getting out of their cars, getting on the train in Reston and coming into D.C., whereas before they may have been going down 66 or somewhere going into D.C.
NNAMDINo Purple Line for you.
RUTHERFORDNo Purple -- well, not at this particular time. The Purple Line -- I'd really like to see these estimates in terms of ridership. I mean, I would not lose sleep if it was cancelled completely, put it that way.
ULMANWell, first of all, I really appreciate Lon Anderson. We had the opportunity to serve together on a blue ribbon taskforce looking at Maryland's transportation needs a couple years ago. And Lon does a great job advocating for the motorists in Maryland.
NNAMDIHe's too wordy, but go ahead.
ULMANHe is too wordy but I might be too wordy right now too, so let me get to the point. Is we've made some progress in the state. We now have a transportation investment funding mechanism that is allowing us to make significant progress. It's allowing us to have the means to be able to afford the Purple Line along with the P3 to afford the Red Line. But that's not our only solution. We've got to have a balanced approach. We've got to expand roads. We've got to expand capacity on our roadways. But we also have to get people off the roads by making mass transit more accessible, more affordable.
ULMANWe've expanded MARC train traffic between Baltimore and Washington. In fact, they launched weekend service. The lieutenant governor and I joined the mayor of Baltimore on that first train. And already they had to triple the number of trains. But let me just let you know, and Lon, if you're listening, the projects that are currently being funded in Montgomery County only is the design of a new interchange at U.S. 29 and Musgrove and Fairland roads, the design of right-of-way for the corridor city's transit way, phase two of the Maryland 124 widening from Mid County highway to Airpark Road, design from Montgomery County's bus rapid transit plan, as Boyd just mentioned, and new planning money for Maryland 28 at 198 improvements.
ULMANAlso in Prince George's, Maryland Route 5, 337 around Andrews Air Force Base. So the fact is that we've had to struggle to be able to afford new capacity. We see Route 29 in Columbia. I'm sure you see it irregularly now being widened to the third lane. So we are making progress, both on mass transit and road construction. We want to make it easier for folks to get around. That's good for our business climate and it's good for the quality of life of Maryland.
RUTHERFORDI just feel, Kojo, we don't need a 4.6 -- or I should say a $2.6 billion rail project that is not -- as you said, the state has already said it's going to take less than 1 percent of the people off the roads, or the cars off the roads. It's just -- it's not necessary when we can use that money for other things like expansion of...
NNAMDIThe bottom line, against Purple Line, for Purple Line.
ULMANYes, for Purple Line...
RUTHERFORDFor Metro expansion.
NNAMDIFor Metro expansion on his part and against Purple Line.
RUTHERFORDYou know, there's only -- you know, the Metro does not run past the Beltway in Prince George's County. It is the only county, except for the Largo Station, that doesn't have Metro access outside the Beltway. Take a look at the map.
NNAMDIWhat would you say the distinction between just having Metro run a line there and the Purple Line?
ULMANWell, they're connected. I mean, they're designed to be an interconnected system. You could pick it up from the Red Line in Silver Spring. You could pick it up from the Red Line in Bethesda. You could pick it up from the Green Line in College Park or out in New Carrollton. So, look, the new economy is demanding mass transit opportunities. We're trying to lower the FBI headquarters to Prince George's County. The discussion is on a Metro line. A new hospital for Prince George's County to replace the aging Prince George's County hospital system, on a Metro line. We have got to be interconnected.
NNAMDIJust want the audience to understand the distinctions you two are making. On to guns. We were emailed this question for Mr. Rutherford by Vinnie DeMarco of Maryland. It is to prevent gun violence. "The National Rifle Association gave Larry Hogan an A grade, a questionnaire he filled out for them for this election. But your campaign has refused to publically release the questionnaire. Mom's Demand Action delivered a letter to your campaign office Tuesday asking you to release the questionnaire. Can you pledge to make public Mr. Hogan's NRA questionnaire so Marylanders know how you all stand on fully implementing the life-saving" -- that's the characterization of Vinnie DeMarco -- "the life-saving Firearm Safety Act of 2013?"
RUTHERFORDWell, the Firearm Safety Act is the law. We have no intention of rolling it back or anything of that nature. It was passed by the legislature and it's going to be done. I don't know what this letter -- I didn't -- I wasn't advised that he sent a letter on Tuesday. I've been a little busy since then. So I would leave that to Larry and some of our folks in the office to brief me on that. I'm not going to make a commitment right now.
NNAMDIBut the Washington Post reported earlier this month that gun rights advocates have been given private assurances from your running mate that he would expand access to guns if he's elected. The Brown campaign is running ads suggesting that your team might have a secret agenda on guns. What will be your team's approach to guns?
RUTHERFORDYeah, we're being called dangerous and we're going to put guns in the playgrounds and in shopping carts and things of that nature. But the position is pretty simple. We are not going to roll back any of the laws, the gun laws in the State of Maryland. The Washington Post went to some blog sites and we always remember all the -- you know, we believe everything we see on chat rooms and on the internet.
RUTHERFORDSo they went to this and they saw some people talking about what Larry may or may not have said to some gun group. The reality is, the law's there and we're going to uphold the law and we're going to have cabinet secretaries that are going to uphold the law and look for efficiencies in government. Because one of the problems we have is we spend too much money in the operation of government. And that is going to be one of my chief focuses when I become lieutenant governor.
ULMANI know this has proved to be a very difficult issue for Larry Hogan. In the primary he said that he didn't support SB281 which is the gun safety measure that you reference.
ULMANThat's the bill that was -- which we support. We supported it. The lieutenant governor and I spoke in "Annapolis. He helped lead the legislative fight to get it passed. In case your listeners aren't aware, SB-281 is the bill that banned assault weapons, banned high-capacity magazines, included common sense background checks.
NNAMDIWhat leads you to believe that the Hogan-Rutherford team would not enforce this law, if elected?
ULMANSure. We've heard so many different things from Larry Hogan. During the primary, he said he didn't support SB-281 because it went too far. Now, in the general election, he says he doesn't support it because it didn't go too far -- it went -- it didn't go far enough. That Washington Post expose that was just referenced was more than just reporters going on to a chat room. The reporters talked to these individuals -- these gun-rights individuals, who said that at an event for a state delegate -- I forget the guy's name, but somebody running for office -- that Larry Hogan had a side conversation with them and said, don't worry. I have to tell the public that, you know, I'm not going to roll back 281.
ULMANBut, you know what? I'll appoint a superintendent of the state police who will loosely interpret the concealed carry rules. You know, we don't have to fully fund background checks or fingerprinting. And so there's a lot that your governor can do or not do. And I think the voters deserve to know what your governor believes in. You know, Larry Hogan likes to say he's just a small businessman. But the fact is, he's really been a 30-plus year Republican, right-wing Republican, party operative. Started when he worked for his father, when he was county executive in Prince George's County.
NNAMDIBoyd Rutherford, can we accept your word?
RUTHERFORDThat is rich. Can you accept my word? Yeah. I mean, a party activist, right wing, whatever. You know, these are all scare tactics, because they want to get away from the real issues of this campaign. The real issues of the campaign are jobs, taxes and the fact that people are leaving this state. We've had more people leave this state than virtually any other state in the Mid-Atlantic. Retirees are talking about leaving. Friends of mine who are federal retirees are talking about going to the Carolinas where their pensions aren't taxed as high. Kids are leaving the state. Two of my children left the state to find good jobs. I mean that is the issue. But they want to go to these scare tactics that we want to put guns in everyone's pocket.
NNAMDIGot to take another short break. When we come back, we will continue this conversation debate between the two candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. Ken Ulman is the Democratic nominee. Boyd Rutherford is the Republican nominee. We're taking your questions by email and Twitter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can tweet us @kojoshow, using the #WAMUDebate. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. We're having a conversation debate between the two candidates for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Maryland. Ken Ulman is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and Boyd Rutherford is the Republican nominee. If you have questions or comments, you can send them to us by email to email@example.com or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow using the #WAMUDebate. There's been a lot made about the rocky rollout of Maryland's health exchange this past year. Boyd Rutherford, your running mate has called for a wider probe into what happened.
NNAMDIIf one spends time on your campaign's website, it's tough to find many solutions for the way forward -- not just on the health exchange, but on making health care affordable and more accessible to Marylanders. What ideas do you think should be put on the table?
RUTHERFORDWell, I think we need to -- one is competition. We need to make sure there is competition. One of the concerns that I have and was talking to some of the health care hospital people, the financial people just last week, is that we've had a consolidation of hospitals in the state. About a third of the hospitals are owned by the state through the university system, University of Maryland Hospitals, and then there's Hopkins that owns another portion, and then MedStar. They are all getting squeezed.
RUTHERFORDAnd we're concerned -- and they were concerned -- these were the financial folks, were concerned with the health care, the fact that the health-care rollout was such a disaster and the fact that we're moving on now to the Connecticut system, after spending $280-plus million, going to the Connecticut system. These folks are going to have to reapply. And the reality is, a person that thinks that they are already receiving health care and then they get a notice saying, you need to apply. Many of them are not going to think they're going to have to apply. And they're not going to take those steps. They're not going to be insured.
RUTHERFORDAnd the hospital is the one that's going to bear that burden, because they're not going to be able to go back against either the insurance company or the individual. And they're going to have to eat that cost. And some of the hospitals have, over the last several years, been laying people off. So we want to make sure that they are -- that the providers are taken care of. But also, it would be better if we could have health care that is expanded and offered real choice so that you can select your doctor and that you can -- even on the federal side -- I would like to see it where we can go to other states if need be.
NNAMDIIf you and your running mate are elected, would you try to get rid of the Affordable Care Act in the State of Maryland altogether?
RUTHERFORDNo. It's -- I mean, that's ridiculous. I mean, I -- it makes me think of Bryce Harper and his response to those kind of questions. I mean, it's a federal law.
NNAMDIThat's a clown question.
RUTHERFORDThat's a clown question, bro'.
NNAMDIKen Ulman, back in June, when your ticket was running for the Democratic nomination, Attorney General Doug Gansler said that when it came time to fix the problems with the health exchange, your running mate, the lieutenant governor, was nowhere to be seen. How would you respond?
ULMANWell, first of all, I'm just disappointed that Boyd mentioned baseball, because I'm still mourning over the Orioles getting swept last night, but as we join National's fans...
NNAMDIAs we are all for the Nationals, so welcome to the club.
ULMANSo much for the MARC Madness or the Beltway Series or whatever we were getting excited -- maybe next year. But, look, health care is an incredibly important issue and something the lieutenant governor has spent a lot of time on. And what Boyd mentioned a few moments ago is really an important issue. And a distinction in Maryland versus every other state is that Maryland is the only state in the nation that has a Medicare waiver and so -- has an all payer system -- and so, we do subsidize. Everyone who has health insurance subsidizes anyone who goes to the hospital who doesn't have insurance who gets care through something called uncompensated care.
ULMANI don't think most people realize that they actually pay a little bit more if have CareFirst or Aetna or any of the Kaiser or any of the private providers. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- and almost 600,000 Marylanders now having health insurance -- uncompensated care has actually gone down. And so we are seeing the benefits of folks having insurance and being able to access doctors and not going to the hospitals. But Boyd's also right. We need to continue to monitor this and work with the hospitals to make sure they're not getting squeezed too much. And the HSCRC, the rate-setting body in Maryland, sets that.
ULMANThe Washington Post, by the way, called our system one of the most bold, innovative systems in the country. Getting back to the health care exchange. Look, we all acknowledge it didn't go as well as anybody would have liked. But what I look for is -- in leadership, is somebody that rolls up their sleeves despite challenges and gets folks enrolled despite the challenges of the website. Working very hard now to make sure folks are ready for the next open-enrollment period in November.
RUTHERFORDWell, one of the problems thought -- I mean, from the very beginning, with the health care exchange is that it essentially was a backroom deal. I mean, the legislative auditors were unable to determine whether the original award of the contract was even done appropriately because they couldn't get the documents from the administration, from the O'Malley-Brown administration. Then, when the system crashed, there was a no-bid emergency contract that went out to a division of United Healthcare to fix the failed system.
RUTHERFORDThe same organization, just a week or so earlier, had donated over $100,000 or several hundred thousand dollars, actually, to the Democratic Governor's Association, which is now running these scurrilous ads against us. That's why the federal government is investigating this whole thing. They're investigating it right now.
NNAMDIHence, your campaign support for an investigation.
RUTHERFORDYes. Yes. We think the state should be investigating as well as what's going on with the federal government, with HHS.
ULMANIf I could just say, to quote Boyd earlier, that was all very rich.
ULMANThe fact is that QSSI, the company referenced, was the company brought in to fix the federal health care exchange. Happened to be based in Maryland fixing health care exchanges and making progress all over the country. And so, certainly...
RUTHERFORDBut it was a no-bid contract and they still didn't do it.
ULMANWell, it was done by the health exchange -- it was done by the Health Exchange Board, which was an independent board.
RUTHERFORDRight, because -- well, the Health Exchange Board...
ULMANAnd certainly we look forward to anybody looking into any...
RUTHERFORDThe Health Exchange Board was exempted from state procurement laws. So there was a decision in the very beginning not to be transparent on this. The Board of Public Works, the only contract they saw was this emergency contract. Look, I was in procurement both in the federal level and in DGS, Department of General Services. There's something fishy there.
ULMANWell, just, you know, the only thing I would say is that, you know, we look forward to anybody taking a look at what the independent exchange...
NNAMDIGot this email from Immanuel. Please ask the candidates where they stand with police officers having to wear cameras in light of the recent police brutality cases across the country. Ken Ulman.
ULMANWell, we were just looking at each other. We got that question at a forum we were at recently. And I think our answer was the same then. Certainly, my police chief, Gary Gardner, I've asked to explore that. The City of Laurel and I believe District of Columbia and Baltimore City are taking a look at that. We want to make sure our officers have all the tools they need to keep the community safe. We also want to make sure there's confidence amongst the community members, that there's transparency and openness in their interaction with law enforcement. So certainly we're open to that discussion.
RUTHERFORDI agree with Ken on that. I think Laurel's piloting it actually, right now. And we would support that as well. We -- there are some privacy concerns in terms of when an officer responds and there's some, you know, the person may or may not be a suspect or a criminal, and how you handle the tapes. But I think that can be worked out. But we would support -- we support the concept and we think it can be done.
NNAMDIImmigration. Maryland is home to a lot of immigrant communities. It's a diverse place. In the middle of a conversation now that's taken place throughout the year about what to do with the flood of undocumented minors who have come into the United States. Governor O'Malley has objected to proposals to send some of these children back to their home countries and has pushed for the state to work with faith leaders, find temporary homes for them there. What do you think is the right thing for the state to do going forward, Boyd Rutherford?
RUTHERFORDWell, I am concerned that, you know, these kids are coming in over the border and they need to be cared for. There's a concern you definitely, from a humanitarian standpoint, you need to take care of kids. But I'm not sure that it's a good idea to bring them thousands of miles away from the border to other states, like, you know, coming to Maryland from Arizona or Texas or whatever, they're coming across the border. It is a bigger issue than just a state issue. There's an immigration issue.
RUTHERFORDThere's an issue in terms of working with, or these Central American countries that are facilitating this going on, as well as the transport country like Mexico that's allowing these kids to be transported through their country in harrowing situations, you know, very difficult situations. So there's a greater issue involved, it's a national issue. But I do...
NNAMDIBut you also seem to be taking a NIMBY position that, yes, they should be taken care of, but not in my state.
RUTHERFORDWell, I don't think it's fair to them. I mean, they're being bused across the country and coming here. And then the idea is that you're going to go through a court proceeding to see if they should stay or go back. I think it could be done a little differently.
NNAMDIKen Ulman, several jurisdictions including -- and please respond to the question I raised earlier. I'm just adding another one because we're running out of time. Several jurisdictions including Montgomery and Prince George's Counties have said that they won't honor federal requests to hold undocumented immigrants beyond scheduled release dates if federal authorities cannot make a case for the likelihood that that person has committed a crime. What's your opinion of what those counties are doing?
ULMANYou know, we have to strike a balance. We have to make sure that there is confidence by everyone in our state, everyone in any of the diverse communities in our state, in law enforcement. We need folks to be comfortable communicating with law enforcement to make sure our streets are safe and our communities are safe. And so you need to strike the right balance of when detention is acceptable and when it's not, and certainly something that we continue to look into. And, you know, as far as immigration, look, our biggest concern ought to be the safety and care for these children.
ULMANYou know, this is the biggest example of the dysfunction of Washington, D.C. We've got to have a comprehensive immigration policy that makes -- that eliminates this kind of dangerous situation.
NNAMDIYou don't mind these children coming to the State of Maryland?
ULMANI think we need to make sure that they are taken care of and are safe. And we then figure out how to reunite them with their families.
NNAMDIDaniel Snyder, the owner of Washington's pro-football team, said earlier this year that he's already in the process of planning for a new stadium. The team currently plays in Prince George's County. And its lease at FedExField doesn't expire for more than a decade. What investments do you think Maryland should be willing to make to keep the team in Maryland? And what do you think the state would lose if the team went to Virginia or came here to Washington, Boyd Rutherford?
RUTHERFORDWell, I have to admit I'm conflicted with that. I'm a native Washingtonian, in case you didn't know. I've lived in Maryland for over 20 years now. But I remember the team being at RFK. So I'll have to fight with Larry a little bit on that in terms of keeping them in Maryland, particularly if they decided they wanted to go back to D.C. at a new RFK or something of that nature, because I think my heartstrings still go back to the District of Columbia on that.
NNAMDIShould changing the team's name be a precondition for any deal they seek to stay in Maryland or in your former home, the district...
RUTHERFORDThat wouldn't be any position that we would take in Maryland, no.
NNAMDIKen Ulman, your position on the same issue?
ULMANCertainly, we want anyone bringing jobs in the State of Maryland, investing in the State of Maryland -- that includes both of the NFL teams who play in Maryland -- and certainly we want Daniel Snyder to keep his team here and keep the jobs and the economic activity that take place on game day. They are headquartered in Virginia. But certainly we're glad that FedExField is...
NNAMDIChanging the team's name should be a part of a precondition for any deal?
ULMANYou know, the lieutenant governor and I do believe that it's time for the team to change its name. But certainly, you know, we want them to continue to invest and be a part of Maryland.
NNAMDIFew would dispute, in the minute and a half we have left, that one of Maryland's greatest treasures is the Chesapeake. But not everyone agrees on the best strategy to restore it. What would you say are the most important things for the next administration to do when it comes to the health of the Bay and what do you think needs to be corrected or improved upon from what's been done in the past. You have about 40 seconds.
RUTHERFORDForty seconds. We would continue what has been going on in terms of cover crops, as far as our producers out on the Eastern Shore as well as the Western Shore -- cover crops as well as the buffers that have been around the tributaries. But one of the things that's very important is to deal with the single largest source of sediment and nutrients to the Bay, and that's what flows over from the Conowingo Dam. No one has addressed that in the last couple of decades. And so we need to push the EPA to be much more restrictive on New York and Pennsylvania, the sediment that comes down from those states, their farmers. And folks, landholders up there are not doing the kind of job that our folks are doing. And so we need to do that.
ULMANWe need an all-hands-on-deck approach. It can't just be about the Conowingo Dam. It's important, but it's just one part of the solution to eliminate the pollutants that run into the Chesapeake Bay. We do have storm-water utilities in place in many of the counties that are now making progress to reduce chemicals and trash that go into the Bay. We need to continue to work on cover crops. We're making progress on a point-source solution through our enhanced nutrient removals at our treatment plants. And we will continue to make sure we treasure the Chesapeake Bay.
NNAMDIKen Ulman. He's the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Maryland. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.
ULMANThank you for the conversation, Kojo.
NNAMDIBoyd Rutherford is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. Thank you for joining us. Good luck to you.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIComing up tomorrow on the Politics Hour, legalize it? Voters go to the polls to decide whether to make marijuana legal in the District. A debate between advocates on both sides of the Referendum 71. The Politics Hour tomorrow at noon on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.
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