Interview - Delegate Candidate Justin Ready

Justin Ready is a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 5A. The 27 year old Ready had is a small business owner who worked with two different State Legislators and most recently was the Executive Director of the Maryland Republican Party. Ready agreed to answer a few questions about his thoughts on the issues and his campaign. To follow are his answers from our e-interview.

M.R. Newman: If you could summarize your campaign in a single sentence, what would you say?
Justin Ready: It is clear that Maryland needs a new direction, new leadership, and fresh ideas. I’m running to make sure that Carroll County remains a place where families can afford to live and businesses can thrive. (That’s two sentences, sorry)

MRN: In the 2009 legislative session, a number of Delegates proposed a personhood amendment to the State Constitution which would define personhood as beginning at conception and that such persons deserve all the rights of every other person in the State including the right to life. Delegate Dwyer has promised to reintroduce this legislation in the 2010 session. What is your opinion on this proposal?
JR: I agree with it. I am strongly pro-life and believe that life begins at conception. We must value life, born and unborn.

MRN: District 5A is currently represented in the House of Delegates two Republicans. What is your opinion of the two incumbent legislators in this district (Shewell, Stocksdale)?
JR: They are both good people who have the best intentions. I’m running because Maryland faces a dire situation and we need vocal, conservative leaders to turn the tide in this state and make a real difference for us in Annapolis. Because Republicans, conservatives in particular, are outnumbered in Annapolis, it is crucial that our elected officials be strong and energetic, constantly working creatively to persuade others to reject the left-wing tendencies in Maryland. Also, it’s important for “safe seat” Republicans to be more politically active, using their influence to build the party and help candidates locally and around the state.

MRN: You previously served on the Maryland GOP Executive committee. How do you feel these experiences will translate to serving in the House of Delegates?
JR: There were a lot of great lessons for me. It really gave me the opportunity to get to know hundreds of our great conservative activists around the state and compare notes on what we need to do to really turn Maryland around. From a more practical standpoint it gave me important managerial experience and an even greater understanding of challenges that businesses and organizations face in our state. Perhaps most importantly, it gave me greater insight on the need to bring people together to accomplish tasks. I learned a lot about persuading people who don’t agree with each other 100% to put differences aside and compromise. A delegate in Annapolis must stand firm on core principles but also strive to build coalitions and consensus to make Maryland a family and business-friendly state again. It’s a subtle but important distinction and it’s something I will be working toward in the House.

MRN: If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation you would propose in the 2011 legislative session?
JR: I don’t plan to introduce a whole slew of legislation in my first session, but one bill that I plan to put in is something I worked on as Chief of Staff in the State Senate (with former Sen. Janet Greenip). The legislation would require that 65% of every education dollar sent from the state be spent “in the classroom”. This would mean on teachers, materials, physical plant etc. that deals with teaching our children. Only 35% could be spent on bureaucracy and administration. That may seem like no big deal, but in our research we discovered that this was not happening or was right on the edge in several counties in Maryland.

I’ll also be looking to sponsor and co-sponsor legislation for small business and family tax relief, even if it is just some type of tax credit.

MRN: With budget shortfalls on the horizon, what would you propose to lower the State defecit?
JR: There is a big mistake made in describing our budget problems by Governor O’Malley and the media. While we have deficits, it would have been possible to avoid them. If in 2007 and 2008, Gov. O’Malley had simply limited budget growth to the rate of inflation (granted, not an easy thing to do because of laws mandating certain levels of spending increase in education and other areas), then we would have been largely out of the spending crisis.

By simply slowing the rate of increase in the budget, we would rarely have budget problems barring some sort of catastrophe. Instead, Gov. O’Malley and the Democrats who run Annapolis decided to pass the largest tax hike in Maryland history and raised income, business, and sales taxes in the fall of 2007. That has led to falling revenues…but O’Malley and the General Assembly have failed to actually cut the overall rate of spending.

They talk about “deep cuts” but in reality they are only snipping around the edges and moving money around different funds to keep spending more. O’Malley has increased spending by over $3 billion in 3 years – and squandered a $1 billion surplus left to him by Gov. Ehrlich. By cutting back spending this year and then limiting future budget growth to the rate of inflation or close to it for the next few years, our state would be back on it’s fiscal feet.

MRN: In your platform, you mention that you want to “De-fund programs that are not working” and ensure that “…government is doing it’s key jobs well.” First, can you name a few programs that are not working that you feel should be defunded? Secondly, what do you feel is the appropriate role / job of our State government?
JR: My answer to the previous question touches some on how to limit spending. I do not have a laundry list of programs that I can submit and say “cut these”. I have not had the chance to read the new budget just submitted by O’Malley. Again, often times it’s just reducing the rate of growth in a particular area that would enable us to stay on track.

I can tell you from my time serving in the House of Delegates and State Senate as staff that one area would be the buying of land by the state. Currently 20% of our state’s land mass is owned by the government, and yet we still spent over $100 million on land purchases in the past year.

To answer your second question, I believe the government’s role should be protection and law enforcement, transportation, public education (including a robust, competitive system with charter schools and school choice), and help for those who legitimately cannot help themselves. The government should encourage job creation by limiting taxes and regulation on businesses, rather than forcing them to do things like pay for health care for part-time employees, or pile on hidden taxes for services. The government should not be telling individuals and families how to live or run their lives.

MRN: In 2010, Maryland voters will once again have the opportunity to vote to hold a Constituitional convention. Would you be in favor of a Constitutional convention?
JR: This is an issue that I confess I need to learn some more about. While I think of some good changes to how our constitution limits the state government, the reality is that if the wrong people got their hands on it (since we are, at this time, such a liberal-leaning state) we could have some problems. So I’m in favor of the idea but would like to look at it more closely.

Ready is a young, conservative Republican – exactly the type of person that the GOP is looking to recruit. He’s passionate about what he believes and continuously updating people on campaign activities through Twitter. Ready lives in a Republican leaning district, so if he can make it through the primary process – his campaign to become the next Delegate from his district will become easier. I wish him luck in his campaign and know that if he wins, he will fastly become one of the leading voice for conservative thought in Annapolis.

Cross posted to Old Line Elephant