Democrat Alec Ross is running for governor of Maryland. (Alec Ross Gubernatorial Campaign)

The first Democrat to enter Maryland’s 2018 governor’s race announced his first major policy proposal on Wednesday, calling for every school in the state to offer computer science classes and eventually require them for all students.

Alec Ross, a Baltimore entrepreneur and best-selling author, said his plan would cost the state about $10 million a year, or less than 1 percent of its annual K-12 budget.

A spokesman for Ross’s campaign said the state could pay for the initiative with savings from other parts of the budget, and that private partners would likely kick in additional funding beyond the state’s contribution.

Ross said only 40 percent of Maryland schools offer computer-science courses and that the state is “falling behind national leaders.” He pointed to a Virginia law that added the subject to the state’s core academic requirements for elementary, middle and high school.

About one-quarter of high schools nationwide offer computer science classes, and access to such courses is often concentrated in affluent areas, according to a 2016 report from the Innovation Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Ross said his plan for making computer science available to all students is “morally and ethically the right thing to do — because delivering next generation skills across our society will help close the gap of economic inequality.”

The candidate wrote “The Industries of the Future,” a 2016 book that earned a spot on the New York Times’ list of business bestsellers.

So far, Sen. Richard S. Madaleno (D-Montgomery) is the only other Democrat to declare that he plans to run for governor. Six others have said they are considering bids, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; Rep. John Delaney; former Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler; former NAACP executive director Benjamin Jealous; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; and attorney James Shea.