Gov. Wes Moore touts 'revolutionary' Maryland as he reflects on his first year in office and praises Biden 'partnership' ahead of 2024 election

  • This week, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore hit the one-year mark of his administration's tenure.

  • During an interview with BI, Moore touted his service-year program and public safety investments.

  • Moore, a key Biden ally, said he was confident that voters would see the "good results" of the president's policies.

Last January, Wes Moore was inaugurated as Maryland's 63rd — and first Black — governor.

Shortly after Moore was sworn into office, he announced in his inaugural address that it was time for the state's policies "to be as bold as our aspirations."

One year later, many of Moore's policy goals have been realized. His service-year option program, which has placed young people in community-based roles across the state, launched with an inaugural class of 280 participants. He signed into law a critical healthcare reimbursement program for Maryland National Guard members. And his administration infused local law enforcement agencies with $122 million in funding as part of a larger focus on reducing violent crime.

But with a new year comes new challenges and opportunities. And it'll happen during a presidential election year when many eyes will be on the 45-year-old Democratic governor, who's set to be a key surrogate for President Joe Biden's reelection campaign.

Moore, an Army veteran, recently spoke with Business Insider about his first year in office and the road ahead.

Questions and answers have been edited for brevity.

Business Insider's John L. Dorman: What would you say were your biggest accomplishments during your first year in office?

Gov. Wes Moore: We've shown that Maryland is doing big things and that Maryland is unafraid to lead. When I was inaugurated, we were 43rd in unemployment in the country. We now have the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country. We were able to accelerate to get to a $15 minimum wage. We were able to get the FBI building to the state of Maryland and also keep the Orioles in Baltimore for years to come. We had historic drops in homicides in Baltimore. I'm excited about the things we've gotten done.

JD: What is the state doing this year to build on its success in tackling public safety in 2023?

WM: We were able to not just put in additional funding for our state's attorneys, but we put in record investments for local law enforcement. We made investments in education and job training. If people look at our budget this year, what did we turn around and do? We made an increased allocation, where now we're putting a record $127 million into local law enforcement.

Wes Moore
Moore has made a focus on service a cornerstone of his administration.AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

They help close cases and we need to get more people looking at law enforcement as a career. We focused on things like getting illegal guns out of our neighborhoods and streets because we need to make sure there's real accountability and consequences for people who are both trafficking these illegal guns and people who are using them.

JD: What's your reaction to former President Donald Trump's victory in the Iowa caucuses and how do you feel about President Biden's standing at the beginning of this election year?

WM: I'm not at all surprised about Iowa. And when you look at the exit polls, how many people who voted there also still believe that Donald Trump is the rightful president? I'm not sure if I've seen anything or any real movements that have shown me that Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee.

I think it also adds to the measure of urgency that we all have about why I'm going to do everything in my power to support President Biden in his reelection efforts. I'm excited to support the president, not just because I'm afraid of an alternative. I'm excited to support the president because I really do believe, if you look at the natural momentum that we've had, even just in the state of Maryland, that so much of it is because we moved in partnership with the president.

I feel good that at the end of the day, people will see so many of the good results that we're seeing, from record unemployment, and inflation that is breaking, to record investments in infrastructure, and being able to address things like the racial wealth gap.

JD: This is the first full year where your service-year option program will be in place. Service has been something you've spoken about frequently, even before taking office. How do you feel about this program now being a reality?

WM: Maryland is now the first state in the country that has a service-year option for all of our high school graduates.

I believe deeply that service will save us. I'm watching the young people who are now working all across the state on a variety of different issues: whether it's a young person who's helping returning citizens, whether it's a young person helping with a mobile library unit who I just met a couple of days ago during our MLK Day of Service, or whether it's a young person who is literally doing a deferral because they're on their way to West Point next year.

I think what Maryland is doing right now is going to be revolutionary.

Read the original article on Business Insider