Video: Ehrlich Responds to Questions (Part 2)
The Republican candidate and former governor talks to the press.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video is the second of four we are posting before the Nov. 2 General Election. Both Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and his Republican rival, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., agreed to sit down to answer questions from Patch readers, but Ehrlich had to cancel. That's why the quality of the two videos differs. We did our best to reschedule with Ehrlich but ultimately had to settle for a less intimate setting.
Ehrlich answered questions from reporters following his speech at Towson University last week. We were able to ask a question from Matt Dernoga of College regarding wind power.
For the most part, Ehrlich discusses other environmental issues and tuition increases.
Ehrlich was first asked about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Chesapeake Bay pollution diet, a federal plan to force Maryland to take steps to reduce pollution.
Claim: "I'm not a fan of federal preemption … When I was elected governor … We were very noncompliant with regard to nutrient management plans on the farms ... When I left office, we were 90 plus compliant on the farm."
FACT: When Ehrlich left office, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) reported that 94 percent of farms had complied with submitting nutrient management plans. The most recent annual MDA report states that, under O'Malley, 99.8 percent were compliant.
He was then asked how much he intended to raise tuition if elected. He did not give an exact number but he did make it clear that he would raise tuition.
Claim: "A tuition freeze is artificial. It doesn't work. A freeze was never meant to last four years. A freeze has hurt our system's schools, it's hurt Maryland parents."
FACT: Many education observers believe that tuition freezes strains a university system's budget, requiring programs to be cut and making it harder to recruit and retain top professors. O'Malley kept adding money into the University System of Maryland's budget to compensate for his tuition freeze.
Bottom line: Ehrlich hiked tuition 40 percent during his tenure and O'Malley froze it until this year, when a 3 percent increase is scheduled.
The Washington Post has reported on this very issue. It stated that, "Some feared that the freeze, championed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on the campaign trail and enacted by the state legislature, might return the state's premier research university to mediocrity. Instead, its reputation continued to rise: Freshman SAT scores and grade-point averages are higher than ever, and the university has steadily scaled the collegiate rankings."
The next question was, "What's your take on wind power?" He said he supports wind power and other renewable sources of energy. He criticized O'Malley for overseeing the closing of BP Solar's operations near Hagerstown.
Claim: "We led the way during my administration on solar."
In 2004, Ehrlich signed the Maryland Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Program into law. It requires sales of electricity in Maryland to contain a certain percentage of power from renewable sources, to include solar. However, O'Malley recently acted to strengthen these same standards with specific regard to solar power.