Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert A. Pascal escalated his verbal war with Gov. Harry Hughes today over Who-Has-the-Solution-to-Unemployment in the state, unveiling a four-point plan to retrain the unemployed.
It was the second time in three weeks that Pascal called a press conference to talk about jobs and it came four days after Hughes announced plans to set up a department of labor and to begin retraining the unemployed.
"He's just throwing paper around," Pascal said of Hughes. "He's following up on what I suggested three weeks ago. You know, when Bob Pascal talks Harry Hughes listens. I think we have some answers here, things that can work, a program that would cost the state less than $1 million."
Hughes' press spokesman Lou Panos retorted, "Bob Pascal should listen to Harry Hughes. If he did, he would know that these programs for which he is now claiming initiative were enunciated months ago by the governor. But someone who is furthering his political ambitions may be too busy to know what is going on in the state of Maryland, so I think he Pascal can be excused for such lamentable oversights."
The Pascal Plan is apparently part of a shift in campaign strategy, moving away from the crime issue that he focused on most of the spring, into the issue of the economy. Pascal plans yet another press conference to outline his successes in economic development as the Anne Arundel county executive. In June, when Pascal was attacking the governor over the gasoline tax, Hughes was asked if he had heard much talk about it in his travels around the state. "No, I don't," Hughes answered. "I hear people talking about the economy, about unemployment.
Pascal's plan calls for setting up an agency to coordinate the programs, using high schools and community colleges as training facilities and teachers as trainers. It also calls for an inventory of job skills and for job counseling for employed persons about to be displaced and the unemployed, recommending specific training for those involved. Finally, the plan calls for spreading word of the job training program to existing businesses and recruiting new businesses to locate in Maryland.
"The state has to become involved in training these people," Pascal said. "We cannot survive with 200,000 people unemployed, we can't even survive with 100,000 people unemployed. We have to start helping these people right away."