MARYLAND, USA — A day after making history by officially becoming the first Black governor of Maryland, Wes Moore stood proud as he made his first executive orders, which include plans for $69 million worth of unreleased funds.
"Today, we are excited to announce that as one of my first acts as governor I am authorizing the release of $69 million of previously withheld funding in the current fiscal year '23 budget," Moore said before breaking down where the money would go. "These funds were authorized by the legislature last year and I am proud to stand with the legislature as we are directing these direct investments into critical programs and services that are going to impact every single community across the state of Maryland."
He said there will also be a fundamental shift on how the governor's office approaches the budget along with their relationship with the general assembly. Moore said they view the general assembly as partners and not adversaries.
Moore announced, as he stood beside Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, that the released money will be used to fight climate change, cannabis market reform to help minority-owned small businesses, as well as funds to provide paid family and medical leave to low-wage workers.
He first announced $9 million to fund the Climates Solutions Now Act which will require the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
"It is not an exaggeration at all to say the lives and the livelihoods of many Marylanders are on the line. And, if we fail to proactively combat the impacts of climate change it will have devastating impacts on our entire state," the newly inaugurated governor said. He continued by saying this is not a future conversation.
Of the investments addressed Thursday morning, the funds for the Cannabis Reform Act was budgeted at $46.5 million - the biggest investment announced. The act will create regulatory and taxation frameworks with fairness and speed for recreational cannabis. This comes after Marylanders voted to legalize it last year, on the same ballot as Moore and Miller.
In addition, $9 million has been budgeted for the Time to Care Act fund. This would develop a family and medical leave insurance program that would make paid leave available to workers in Maryland. Lastly, he is committing $3.5 million to the Abortion Care Access Act to ensure access to safe abortion care in the state.
As he signed the paperwork for the orders, the room erupted in applause, marking his first act as governor on his first full day.
"We view these investments that we're releasing today as critical to protecting the fundamental rights of all Marylanders proactively combating devastating impacts of climate change, while supporting our state's burgeoning clean economy and also supporting Maryland's families and promoting economic justice and economic parity," he said.
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