Carozza hopes to build case for Shore in Annapolis

Delegate Carl Anderton will join fellow Delegate Mary Beth Carozza as Wicomico representatives in the General Assembly.

Delegate Carl Anderton will join fellow Delegate Mary Beth Carozza as Wicomico representatives in the General Assembly.

It’s a busy time for newly elected delegate Mary Beth Carozza, a season of setting goals, meeting with officials, preparing to serve on the prestigious Appropriations Committee and talking to Maryland’s new governor.

Humbled, the Republican Carozza will be sworn in today, when the 2015 legislative session begins, and is focused on keeping promises to constituents she met while campaigning. Gov.-elect Larry Hogan will be sworn in a week later.

“I am so grateful for being elected to serve my home community. You feel the responsibility, the weight of that responsibility, given our budget challenges and given what I heard from families and voters throughout the past 16 months of my campaign,” Carozza said during a recent conversation.

Last month, Michael Busch, speaker of the house, appointed her to the prestigious appropriations committee, making her one of 12 freshman delegates on the 26-member committee. Members make the annual budget and spending decisions.

“Carozza’s appointment … is of huge importance to the Eastern Shore given the departures of incumbent Appropriations Committee Chairman Norm Conway (D-Wicomico) and Del. Addie Eckardt (R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico), with her election to the state senate,” a news release from Busch’s office stated.

Carozza called the opportunity “exciting.”

“I’ll be in a position to be involved in all spending decisions. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I am committed to putting Maryland’s fiscal house in order while supporting our Shore priorities by focusing on cost-effective, efficient and outcome-based results,” she said.

She has met with Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton, City Council President Jake Day and County Executive Bob Culver about downtown revitalization and priorities for growth in Salisbury.

“I think I can play a pivotal role to help strengthen  the partnerships and bring the right people together and make the strongest case for us here on the Eastern Shore,” she said.

She’ll concentrate on economic development, particularly in the high-tech area, because it will lead “to more good-paying jobs, giving more of our young people the option to live, work, and raise their families here on the Shore,” she said.

“For example, during a recent visit with the owner of a local mechanical engineering and construction company, we discussed the skill set needed for a trained workforce in the building and construction industry, ranging from operating sophisticated CAD drawing systems to construction management to accounting and business practices.  There are good, high-paying jobs available in this industry but there is a need to build an educated, trained workforce to fill those positions,” she said.

As a delegate, she said she will have the opportunity to help strengthen private-public partnerships, “so that current and future employers and our educators and parents can work together earlier in the process to ensure that we are building a career-ready workforce.”

As she campaigned, the common theme among concerned constituents was the future of youth and local career opportunities.

Carozza met with community and business leaders, those with knowledge of economic development and elected officials “to talk about where we can partner and work together,” she said.

Maryland residents will see “a real shift” under Hogan’s leadership. “Any spending, you will have to justify what the outcomes will be,” she said.

Among her goals is helping the poultry industry in the face of proposed phosphorus regulations that she said “would be devastating to not only the poultry growers but the entire poultry industry.” And, she will work to kill the chicken tax, a proposed 5 cents on each biddy.

As the legislative session nears, she is eager to begin.

“It’s a great opportunity. To a certain extent, the stars have all aligned. We have this budget crisis but I’m in a position to work on economic development opportunities,” she said.

Hogan will tackle the deficit and “take Maryland to the next level as far as being business friendly so our young people can stay here on the Shore,” she said.

In meetings, he said the budget deficit was “far worse than he believed,” Carozza said, quoting a $1.2 billion shortfall.  Before June of this fiscal year, $420 million has to be cut.

“We have been selling bonds to fund the operating budget. These bonds come due in Gov. Hogan’s first term … he has talked about rolling back taxes in areas but before he can do that, he has made clear we have to put Maryland’s fiscal house in order,” she said.

That’s important to constituents, who told her they can balance family budgets, yet the state is in debt. “You can’t spend money you don’t have,” Carozza said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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