A New Baltimore Agenda?

The Sun today has the word on plans by House Speaker Mike Busch and others for extensive new spending for Baltimore City.

Leading Democrats in the House of Delegates plan to push at least a dozen legislative proposals aimed at addressing persistent problems highlighted by Baltimore’s unrest last spring.

The sprawling package of bills would invest millions more to demolish vacant buildings, extend the school day in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods and make it easier for public universities to hire city residents.

The proposals would pump state cash into construction projects as minor as putting roofs on community centers and as dramatic as installing turf fields and lights at Druid Hill and Herring Run parks to support a state-backed recreation league.

“When something like what happened in Baltimore trains a national spotlight on the city, you say to yourself, ‘We’re better than that,'” House Speaker Michael E. Busch said. “There’s a responsibility on everyone to come together.”

Whether Larry “What Did Baltimore Ever Do For Me?” Hogan will go along with these ideas, which Busch acknowledged would cost “tens of millions of dollars,” is uncertain at best. And the Sun also notes that the rest of the state may not feel great about devoting substantial funds to Baltimore, too. As usual, Todd Eberly has an opinion that misses the point - it’s not just about the rural areas that voted for Hogan but also Montgomery County. Our school population is growing by 2,500 students every year, we watched Baltimore get $1 billion in school construction funding commitments, we’ve waited fruitlessly thus far for our turn to come around (it’s an annual rite of spring, the calls for more state funding, the bus trips to Annapolis, and the same result - come back next year).

No offense to Baltimore but the Sun is wrong - the economic engine of Maryland is not Baltimore, it’s Montgomery County. I’m all for working together but at some point the street has to run in both directions. Lately it’s been all one way. Some way must be found to begin addressing the infrastructure needs of the entire state. How that happens with Larry Hogan on the second floor is unclear, but standing aside and simply allowing Baltimore to get “tens of millions of millions of dollars” in infrastructure spending is not a productive exercise.

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