Citybiz Interview with Brooke Lierman, Candidate for Maryland Comptroller

Brooke Lierman is an effective and passionate legislator, a mother of two, and a disability and civil rights attorney. After spending five years as a Member of the Appropriations Committee in the General Assembly, she assumed a leadership role on the Environment and Transportation Committee in 2019. She also sits on the Joint Committee on Ending Homelessness, the Oversight Committee on Pensions, and founded and co-chairs the Maryland Transit Caucus.

Brooke has successfully passed landmark legislation to invest in and improve public transit; end suspension and expulsion of young students; fund evidence-based gun violence prevention programs; aid sex trafficking victims; close loopholes in our family and paid leave laws and much more. In 2019, working with environmental groups and small businesses around the state, she passed the nation’s first statewide ban on Styrofoam food and beverage containers, and in 2020 she passed the HOME Act, banning housing discrimination based on the renter’s source of income.

She is a champion at constituent work, an advocate with state agencies on behalf of small businesses and organizations and remains connected to the communities she serves year-round. Amidst the health and economic crises created by COVID-19, Brooke has organized food relief for constituents and led the successful effort to bring World Central Kitchen (led by Chef Jose Andres) to Baltimore to feed thousands of Baltimoreans in need.

Interview questions:

Why | Why are you running for Comptroller of Maryland?

Reimagining the Comptroller’s Office| How do you envision reimagining the Comptroller’s office?

Issues | Can you provide a summary of the issues facing the comptroller’s office?

Modernizing the Office | How will the office of the comptroller be modernized? What will be the policy priorities?

Transparent Government | What will be the policy priorities for a transparent and open government?

Racial Wealth Gap |How will you tackle the racial wealth gap? What are the policy priorities?

Small Business and Jobs| What are the policy priorities for supporting small businesses and creating jobs?

Procurement | How will the procurement process change? What are your policy priorities? …

Education | What role will education play? What are the policy priorities?

Transportation | What are the policy priorities for transportation?

Connect with Brooke on LinkedIn

Brooke has had thousands of conversations with residents across the state as a community member, Delegate, and candidate for Comptroller to learn what pressing issues are facing Marylanders. Workers, families, and small business owners in communities from Salisbury to Cumberland are facing many of the same challenges.

Throughout this campaign, Brooke has spoken with and convened people with lived experience, community leaders, nonprofits, and policy experts to find thoughtful, achievable solutions for the issues facing Maryland’s communities. The policy proposals you find here are the beginning, not the end. As the campaign progresses, Brooke and the members of the campaign will continue having conversations, learning from constituents and experts, and surfacing solutions and policies. Brooke will continue to learn and convene people to ensure every community in Maryland can thrive. That commitment in leadership is one she will continue as Comptroller.

Supporting Fair, Competitive, and Transparent Tax Administration

Maryland’s tax system depends on voluntary compliance, which in turn relies on Maryland residents believing that the system is fair and transparent.  As Comptroller, Brooke will work to make sure that Maryland’s tax practices are transparent and seen as fair for both individuals and businesses, and are competitive so as to drive the state’s economy and jobs growth.  Brooke will use her state legislator experience and relationships to work with lawmakers and stakeholders for maintaining appropriate tax practices and policies that serve the needs of our state and its citizens.

Brooke will be an independent watchdog for the effectiveness of tax incentive programs and the recently enacted whistleblower program. Brooke will also bring parties together to explore options for modernizing the state’s income tax code to ensure we have policies that support our families, seniors, and small businesses. Read more about Brooke’s vision to support fair, competitive, and transparent tax administration.>

Modernizing the Office of Comptroller & Deploying Data

Modernizing the Office of the Comptroller and providing unprecedented customer service to taxpayers will be some of Brooke’s top priorities. This means enhancing current technologies to handle the volume of data, and ensuring the workforce in the Comptroller’s office have opportunities to grow and learn and are supported in their efforts to help every person or company who reaches out to the office. Brooke will continue the process of bringing offline processes online to provide a smoother user experience and to provide better, more usable data. The State’s financial data will be provided in a way that allows for comprehensive analysis and that can be easily understood by anyone who visits the website. Read more about Brooke’s vision for making the Comptroller’s Office work for all Marylanders. >

Transparent & Open Government for All

As the Chief Financial Officer for the state of Maryland, the Comptroller’s primary responsibility is the administration of the State’s tax and financial system. The Comptroller has responsibility for and oversight of revenue collection, and partners with the Treasurer to oversee our public spending, pensions, and investments. The Comptroller should also play a critical role as an independent auditor to fight fraud, waste, and abuse. The Comptroller also plays a role in ensuring that all Maryland residents have equal and easy access to state services and systems regardless of their identity and ability. Read more about Brooke’s vision for increasing government transparency and accountability to fight fraud, waste, and abuse and ensure that Maryland government is accessible for every Marylander. >

Tackling the Racial Wealth Gap

Maryland is not immune from the persistent racial wealth gap that exists in this country and holds back our communities from being as prosperous and thriving as they could be. This racial gap has a persistent negative effect not just on some communities, but on our economy as a whole – and we must confront it head-on. The effects on households are staggering. Median household wealth for Black, Latino, and white households is around $25,000, $36,000, and $188,000, respectively.  Nationally, it is estimated that the racial wealth gap and its dampening effects on consumption and investment will cost the US economy between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion over the next decade. As Comptroller, Brooke will use her seat to convene stakeholders, thought partners, and government officials to implement strategies that challenge the gap and begin to undo decades of systemic racism in our housing and business sectors so that every community in Maryland has the chance to reach its full potential and our economy can grow and thrive.  Read more about Brooke’s vision for addressing the racial wealth gap so all Marylanders share in prosperity. >

Strong, Stable & Connected Communities

Maryland is at a critical juncture. While the State has some of the most economically prosperous communities in the nation, many neighborhoods and rural areas continue to suffer the effects of poverty, disinvestment, and a history of segregation and racial discrimination. Some communities have access to health facilities, grocery stores, parks, quality housing, jobs, transit, and a clean environment; others do not. Neighborhoods and communities of concentrated poverty limit the economic mobility and life expectancy of its residents and impair the State’s economic growth. In addition, many long-stable middle-income areas are facing new demographic challenges as their population and housing ages. Read more about Brooke’s vision for investing in Maryland communities so every corner of our state achieves prosperity. >

Thriving Small Businesses & Great Jobs

As Comptroller, Brooke will focus on ensuring that businesses can start here and stay here. Maryland should be a state where entrepreneurs create, grow, and keep businesses. Entrepreneurs and their businesses are critical to generating economic growth and to growing jobs in our state. Compared to many other states, Maryland lacks the investments and tools to support and grow companies at home and too much Maryland talent is drained out of the state. Read more about Brooke’s vision for growing businesses and jobs so small businesses, workers, and communities can all thrive. >

Protecting Pensions

The Comptroller’s duty as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS) is one of its most important. The SRPS administers retirement, disability, and death benefits on behalf of more than 400,000 active, vested, and retired State employees, teachers, state police, correctional officers, other law enforcement officers, judges and legislators. The Board supports the Executive Director, Chief Investment Officer, and staff to ensure we are prudently investing the earnings of members ($55 billion and counting) and paying out timely and accurate benefits. Brooke will work with the other Board members to reduce fees, ensure that any outside investment management firms reflect the diversity of our state, and ensure our investments are prudent while also reflecting our progressive values. Read more about Brooke’s vision for protecting Maryland’s pension commitments to our public servants. >

Harnessing the Power of Procurement

The procurement process is absolutely critical to how Maryland’s government works for its residents. It is how the State – and all of its agencies – spends billions of taxpayer dollars every single year to acquire goods and services from private sector businesses. In 2017, Brooke voted to overhaul Maryland’s procurement process, saving Maryland taxpayers $100 million annually. But there is more work to be done. As Comptroller, Brooke will fight wasteful spending and drastically reduce single-bid contracts. As a member of the Board of Public Works, she will make the procurement process more transparent, more streamlined, and more accessible. She will ensure that our homegrown, local small businesses get the fairest shot at landing state contracts, keeping economic activity right here in Maryland. Read more about Brooke’s vision for reforming Maryland’s procurement processes so taxpayers get the best value for their dollar. >

Supporting Our Rural Counties

Although 1 in 5 Americans live in rural areas and 97 percent of land in the United States is considered to be rural, many of our rural communities have often been economically, socially, and politically left behind. Maryland’s rural towns are far from homogenous and are home to a diverse number of industries that are vital to the fabric of our state — from farming to manufacturing to recreation and the arts. Our communities in western Maryland, southern Maryland, and on the Eastern Shore are indispensable. They need investments and resources to thrive. Our Comptroller must ensure that every part of the state is meeting its full economic potential – including our rural areas. Read more about Brooke’s vision for investing in our rural communities.  >

An Excellent Education for Every Student

Education is the cornerstone of thriving and resilient communities – and prosperous ones. It is also the foundation for our state’s economy. Brooke is a proud public-school graduate and parent and believes that every child in Maryland not only has the right to an exceptional education, but needs this foundation to ensure that our state can grow and thrive in the future. Every community deserves to have a local school that offers an exceptional education for all students; that provides a safe and supportive gathering place for the community; and that reflects and celebrates the vibrant culture of the community, of our state, and of our nation. Equity, opportunity, accountability, and excellence are the cornerstones of a strong educational system that will cultivate our next generation of leaders and thinkers. Read more about Brooke’s vision for ensuring that every Marylander has access to educational opportunities at excellent, adequately resourced public schools and universities. >

A Green, Clean Future

Perhaps no threat to our economy and way of life is greater than the threat of climate change. Every elected official in Maryland, including the Comptroller, must be actively engaged in meeting this challenge head on. Climate change is already affecting almost every aspect of our state from the economy to the health of our citizens to the preservation of our cultural heritage. Its consequences will become much more serious in the years ahead and will significantly impact important environmental, social, and infrastructure assets. To prepare for climate change, the State needs a detailed understanding of future impacts, and a long-term strategic plan that outlines the role for all state agencies. Coordination for these actions can begin within the operations of the Office of the Comptroller. Making climate resilience one of the key pillars of the Comptroller’s Office will ensure that all decision-making and functions have a “climate lens” by which to define future actions. Read more about Brooke’s vision for addressing the climate crisis and ensuring healthy, sustainable communities in every part of our state. >

21st-Century, Connected Transportation Systems

Transportation is the second largest budget item for Maryland households. As Comptroller and as a member of the Board of Public Works, Brooke will increase transparency and oversight of transportation funds to help ensure that all Marylanders have access to a quality, 21st-century transportation system that reduces congestion and provides greater access to business and commerce. Read more about Brooke’s vision for a connected state through investments in a 21st-century, accessible, equitable, and sustainable transportation system that connects Marylanders to opportunity. >

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