Dennis brings us this companion piece to this week’s podcast so you can be better informed. Enjoy!
Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other members of Baltimore’s political class applauded a report released by George Mason University. The report – which analyzed six different cities including Baltimore – praised Baltimore’s financial resiliency, and dubbed the city “The Dog that didn’t bark“. Luke Broadwater covered the release for the Baltimore Sun and Baltmore’s leadership sung the praises highly.
After reviewing the report in full (direct link), I found two significant issues that tell me this dog needs to be fixed more than it needs to be petted.
First, the report, while expansive, lacked any dissenting views of Baltimore’s current financial state. When your primary sources for the city are a part of the system (whether elected or appointed) it is obvious that every effort will be made to make the city look good.
Second, the report indicates that Baltimore’s success is anchored in part by the support that is coming from the rest of the state. This is certainly true as a significant part of Baltimore’s expenses have been subsidized by Annapolis.
The problem with this is that the report’s assumption – namely that the state will continue to support Baltimore – is flawed. Historically, Baltimore’s support from the State and Federal government has been in decline for years. 2013 will mark one of the lowest amounts of revenue sent from the state since 2009. Furthermore, this decline in assistance is occurring when someone very sensitive to Baltimore’s problems – Martin O’Malley – was directing the state’s annual budget. As political power flows from Baltimore to other jurisdictions and Baltimore’s political strength declines we can expect this to continue.
We got into more detail during the podcast, but for now this report – like your favorite margarita during happy hour – is best taken with a huge grain of salt.