Mar 20, 2013 06:05PM
● By Anonymous
Now, Franchot is making noticeable steps of his own as Maryland’s chief financial officer. He explains his recent endeavors, including the Economic Truth Tour, and plans for the near future.
• You’ve been meeting with many Marylanders, large and small business owners, etc. during your Economic Truth Tour. Could you explain the tour’s goals?
I started this Economic Truth Tour because I wanted a chance to see how everyday Marylanders were faring in this economy. It’s good to get outside of Annapolis to hear from business leaders on the Eastern Shore, teachers from Baltimore City, and coal miners from Alleghany County—to hear of their experiences and to determine how we in Annapolis can best help.
• You’ve been quoted, saying “…the economy is really, really soft and we need more fiscal strength.” Could you elaborate on that and what fiscal strength means to you?
To me, fiscal strength is most directly tied to private sector job creation. It is through job creation that we will recover. It means more Marylanders will be able to pay their bills, create revenue, and shore up our economy.
Fiscal strength also happens when we manage our money more carefully than we have. Just like families who have to forego cable TV or eating dinners at restaurants to pay their bills, those in government have to make tough decisions, as well, and similarly cut back during this economy.
• What are your reasons for not making a run for governor in 2014?
The job I have now, as Maryland’s comptroller, is just too appealing to leave. I feel I can make a difference in this position and it is suited to my strengths.
We have made great strides during my time in this office, including collecting more tax dollars more efficiently at a greater savings to the people of Maryland. I am able to advocate for the Maryland taxpayer. I am also able to shine a light on issues and citizens worthy of our attention.
For all these reasons, I feel like my current job is the best I could possibly have and I truly enjoy dealing with the fiscal health of our state every day and the challenges it raises.
• What are your overarching goals as comptroller for the remainder of this term and potentially next term?
As I would hope most everyone knows, I have spent a great deal of time as Comptroller advocating for a mandatory financial literacy course for Maryland high school students. Though a bill requiring a standalone personal finance course that would teach [financial literacy] has not passed during several legislative sessions, we are having success at the county level. It is my goal for more Maryland counties to join with those who have enacted this requirement during the remainder of this term.
In addition, I would like to see the General Assembly implement a transparent system when it comes to campaign finance. I believe we need to marshal forces to establish a real-time campaign finance system, which would allow Marylanders to see political contributions as they are deposited, much like we see on our own personal bank accounts. Doing so would put the state of Maryland on the cutting edge or forefront of transparency.
• During this past election, you were an outspoken opponent of expanding gambling (Question 7). Have your views changed at all in the time since the ballot question passed?
Yes, I was an outspoken opponent of gambling expansion in Maryland and I remain concerned about how this will affect our economy. I am concerned we are over-committed to this industry, having six approved casinos in our relatively small state, and I will certainly watch to see how the promises that have been made will translate into jobs and increased dollars for our state, because I have a pretty pessimistic view of these promises.
• What do you believe is the most controversial budget-related decision facing Maryland lawmakers this coming General Assembly and why?
I believe two of the most serious issues affecting Maryland’s budget in the upcoming session are closing our structural deficit and the issue of the transportation trust fund. These are important issues that need to be addressed proactively, but the problem is, with less money on hand and with our budget out of balance, we run the risk of an upcoming crisis when we will need money that is just not available in an emergency.
• Who have been your biggest influences personally and professionally?
This is my favorite question. First, professionally: I admire several great leaders of history, including FDR, Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, and Lincoln, and I admire our current president.
Personally, my biggest influence is my dad. My favorite stories he tells are of the time of World War II, when he served as a Navy Bomber pilot. It was during that time, when the stakes were high, that he saw our country coming together, uniting in a mission to help each other, sacrifice for each other, and work together for the common good. It’s something I’d like to see us return to now, when we need it most, instead of staying mired in the divisiveness we seem to find ourselves in now.
• Outside of politics and your professional career, what are some of you personal interests and hobbies?
The number one hobby I share with my wife Anne, is our two kids. I couldn’t be more proud of both of my kids and I’m so lucky to have Anne in my life, walking beside me as we celebrate these milestones. Anything I accomplish personally or professionally is because of her.
Other hobbies include gardening, biking, and I enjoy music, and a good Maryland restaurant.