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Fiscal Policy &Maryland politics Richard Falknor on 13 Apr 2009 07:06 pm

Is A New Pork Express Just Leaving the Annapolis Station?

The Maryland General Assembly is taking the final votes to approve the new capital budget here authorizing $1.1 billion in new state debt here.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a capital budget authorizing $935,000,000 in then-new state debt here.

The House of Delegates-Senate conference report here which readers may wish to eyeball to get a sense of which larger projects, presumably of state-wide benefit, meet their fiscal-sanity test and which do not.

Earlier details on some of the larger projects approved are available here.

Larger Capital Projects

As we never tire of writing, some projects may clearly be defensible for public funding. But it is a stretch, during perilous economic times, to burden Maryland taxpayers with debts for undertakings far removed from the core roles of state and local government.

Public-safety and hard infrastructure improvements, of course, would certainly be at the top of the publicly-funded to-do list. 

Another generously bankrolled area, higher-education construction items, needs some serious scrutiny.  Here is a challenging related piece “More transparency, less titillation, on campus, please” from the Maryland Public Policy Institute’s Marta Hummel Mossberg —

“But the real problem – that universities want taxpayers’ money, but not their opinions – will not change without more transparency in how they use public money.
. . . . .
Maryland’s state legislature could start the process for the University System of Maryland by requiring it to set up a searchable online database similar to the Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency database at http://spending.dbm.maryland.gov/.”


As for the “miscellaneous” set of the larger capital projects — well, see for yourself !

Here are a few:

Z00L Misc: Lyric Opera House – Stage House Expansion $1,500,000
Z00M Misc: Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts                  500,000
Z00Q Misc: National Children’s Museum                           1,500,000
Z00R Misc: Park Heights Revitalization                             1,500,000
Z00V Misc: WestSide Revitalization                                   2,000,000

Plus $3,000,000 for An Affluent Doggies Park?

Z00S Misc: Robert E. Lee Park                      3,000,000

 “The request is for planning and construction funding for improvement to Robert E. Lee Park – a 415-acre park used primarily by dog owners for recreating with their pets in and around the adjacent Lake Roland.”

 

“Fiscal 2010 Local House Initiatives.”

Let us now move on to what have been traditionally called “local bond bills” — now fancied up as “local initiatives.”

Readers should look at both House of Delegates and Senate lists of local-initiative projects authorized, keeping in mind that a local initiative authorized by either chamber stands. 

Moreover if one chamber authorizes $100,000 for a pre-school tricycle project in Baltimore City, and the other chamber authorizes $50,000 for exactly the same project, the total state money for the project is $150,000.

Here (pp. 13-15) are the “Fiscal 2010 Local House Initiatives.”  

The numbers to the left of the entries indicate House bill numbers. Readers may go to these bills (be sure to add HB before the bill number) on the General Assembly website here, then go to the attached bond-bill fact sheet at the bottom of each bill’s panel, to get real detail on the project. Remember — some projects have been getting state money for quite some time, and also receive other taxpayer money from local and Federal sources.  All this should be revealed on the fact sheet. So the face amount of the project is often only the tip of the state-debt iceberg.

Below is an extract of the amounts of all the House-approved local-initiative projects:

“Statewide
1059 Baltimore Museum of Industry – Life Safety System Upgrades $40,000 
1257 Capital Area Food Bank  125,000 
325 Easter Seals Inter-Generational Center 35,000
1548 Maryland Food Bank Distribution Center Roof 125,000
338 Maryland Science Center Green 100,000
18 National Center for Children and Families Youth Activities Ctr. 100,000 
National Children’s Museum 1,750,000 Other $1,500,000 Total 3,250,000
762 Therapeutic Pool for People With Disabilities 125,000
1371 Port Discovery 100,000
Subtotal: $4,000,000

Allegany
488 Allegany Museum $100,000
Subtotal: $100,000

Anne Arundel
1449 Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre Renovation $50,000 
352 Benson-Hammond House Renovation 60,000 
275 Historical Freetown Renovation 150,000 
761 Homeport Farm Park Building Rehabilitation Project 100,000
730 Southern High School Field House 50,000 
Subtotal: $410,000

Baltimore City
336 American Visionary Arts Museum $150,000 
1531 Eastside Youth Center Expansion 75,000 
774 Garrett-Jacobs Mansion 150,000
880 Girl Scout Urban Program and Training Center 100,000 
234 Healthy Start Client Service Center 150,000 
Subtotal: $625,000

Baltimore
394 Automotive Vocational Training Center $100,000
384 HopeWell Cancer Support Facility 200,000
974 Leadership Through Athletics Facility 35,000
125 Owings Mills Jewish Community Center 200,000
1308 Storyville Children’s Learning Center – Woodlawn Library 250,000
Subtotal: $785,000

Calvert
1484 Exploration of Captain John Smith Exhibit $50,000
Subtotal: $50,000 $50,000

Caroline
450 Adkins Arboretum Native Garden Gateway $100,000
Subtotal: $100,000

Charles
381 Hospice House $105,000
Subtotal: $105,000

Frederick
174 Mental Health Association Building $200,000
Subtotal: $200,000

Harford
1438 The Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center $200,000 
Subtotal: $200,000

Howard
620 Linwood Center $150,000
617 Robinson Nature Center 150,000
Subtotal: $300,000

Montgomery
554 Gaithersburg Community Museum $250,000
204 Imagination Stage 150,000
104 MacDonald Knolls Center 100,000
1560 Poolesville Skate Park 100,000
133 Renovation of “Falling Green” at OBGC Park 150,000
Subtotal: $750,000

Prince George’s
1434 Capitol Heights Municipal Building $100,000
724 Cosca Regional Skate Park 250,000 250,000
1481 District Heights Field Renovation 100,000
467 LARS Facility Renovation 100,000 100,000
424 South Bowie Boys and Girls Club Concession Stand 50,000
535 YMCA Potomac Overlook 100,000
Subtotal: $700,000

Queen Anne’s
253 Kennard High School Restoration $100,000 
Subtotal: $100,000

St. Mary’s
276 Pathway’s Facility Renovation $175,000
Subtotal: $175,000

Talbot
178 YMCA Fire Safety System Upgrade $100,000
Subtotal: $100,000

Washington
1430 Museum of Fine Arts $100,000 
Subtotal: $100,000

Wicomico
764 Parsonsburg Volunteer Fire Company Community Center $250,000 
Subtotal: $250,000

Grand Total: $7,500,000 Other $1,500,000 $9,050,000″

“Fiscal 2010 Local Senate Initiatives”

And here (pp. 14-17) are the “Fiscal 2010 Local Senate Initiatives.” 

The numbers to the left of the entries indicate Senate bill numbers. Readers may go to these bills (be sure to add SB before the bill number) on the General Assembly website here, then go to the attached bond-bill fact sheet at the bottom of each bill’s panel, to get real detail on the project. Remember — some projects have been getting state money for quite some time, and also receive other taxpayer money from local and Federal sources.  All this should be revealed on the fact sheet. So the face amount of the project is often only the tip of the state-debt iceberg.

Below is an extract of the amounts of all the Senate-approved projects:

Statewide
888 Baltimore Museum of Industry – Life Safety System Upgrades $40,000
827 Capital Area Food Bank 175,000
930 Easter Seals Inter-Generational Center 35,000
1040 Maryland Food Bank Distribution Center Roof 125,000
191 National Center for Children and Families Youth Activities Center 150,000
National Children’s Museum 1,750,000 Other 1,500,000 3,250,000
134 Port Discovery 225,000
545 Therapeutic Pool for People with Disabilities 225,000
Subtotal: $4,225,000

Allegany
389 Allegany Museum $125,000
Subtotal: $125,000

Anne Arundel
902 Aleph Bet Jewish Day School $45,000
1004 Coordinating Center for Home and Community Care Building Facilities 30,000
1003 Light House Shelter 50,000
215 Linthicum Veterans Memorial Other 185,000
838 MTR Education and Rehabilitation Center 25,000
Subtotal: $335,000

Baltimore City
578 Academy of Success Community Empowerment Center $50,000
508 Center for Urban Families 75,000 
594 Fine Arts Center for Archbishop Curley High School 200,000
456 Garrett-Jacobs Mansion 50,000
702 Girl Scout Urban Program and Training Center 50,000
871 Iota Phi Theta Love/Action Center 15,000
255 Maryland Science Center Green Other 300,000 300,000
865 Parks and People Headquarters at Auchentoroly Terrace 50,000
615 Roland Park Fire Station Rehabilitation 110,000
996 Southwest Senior and Community Multipurpose Center 125,000
437 Women’s Industrial Exchange 125,000
Subtotal: $1,150,000

Baltimore
383 Automotive Vocational Training Center $125,000
923 Good Shepherd Center 75,000
536 HopeWell Cancer Support Facility 50,000
535 Owings Mills Jewish Community Center 75,000
114 Todd’s Inheritance 50,000
Subtotal: $375,000 $375,000

Calvert
1008 North Beach Boardwalk $250,000
Subtotal: $250,000

Caroline
804 Adkins Arboretum Native Garden Gateway $25,000
Subtotal: $25,000

Charles
310 Hospice House $145,000
1028 Jaycees Field of Dreams 30,000
Subtotal: $175,000

Frederick
316 Mental Health Association Building $50,000
351 The John Hanson Memorial 50,000
Subtotal: $100,000

Howard
523 Former Ellicott City Post Office $150,000
525 Troy Regional Park 150,000
Subtotal: $300,000 $300,000

Montgomery
624 Black Rock Center for the Arts $50,000
999 Dance Exchange 50,000
200 Imagination Stage 125,000
412 Lake Whetstone Facilities 80,000
460 Latino Economic Development Corporation Facility 175,000
410 Northgate Homes Lighting Upgrade 40,000
1012 Olney Theatre Center Campus 150,000
1055 Poolesville Skate Park 75,000
411 Residential Continuum, Inc. Group Home Renovations 30,000
311 Renovation of “Falling Green” at Olney Boys and Girls Community Park 50,000
430 Rockville Historic Post Office Renovation 100,000
Subtotal: $925,000

Prince George’s
1044 African-American History Museum $50,000
889 Bowie Police Dispatch Center 25,000
837 Chosen Youth Group Basketball Court 25,000
982 Concord Historic Site 100,000
936 District Heights Field Renovation 100,000
141 Elizabeth Seton High School Sports Facilities 50,000
921 Greenbelt Consumer Cooperative Renovation 100,000
498 Harmony Hall Manor 100,000
887 Kappa Alpha Psi Playground Equipment 10,000
924 Knights of St. John Woodville School 0ther 225,000 225,000
401 Laurel Boys and Girls Club 100,000
832 Lincoln Vista Neighborhood Park Recreation Building 15,000
519 Olde Mill Community and Teaching Center 25,000
875 Palmer Park Boys and Girls Club 100,000
833 Shabach Adult Day Care and Senior Center 25,000
834 Whitemarsh Turf Field 25,000
Subtotal: $1,075,000

Queen Anne’s
482 Kennard High School Restoration $100,000
Subtotal: $100,000 $100,000

St. Mary’s
1031 Cedar Lane Apartment Renovations $125,000
Subtotal: $125,000

Talbot
803 Oxford Community Center $75,000
336 YMCA Fire Safety System Upgrade 25,000
Subtotal: $100,000

Washington
718 Barbara Ingram School for the Arts $150,000
719 Doleman Black Heritage Museum 25,000
Subtotal: $175,000

Wicomico
571 Senior Training Center for the Blind $150,000
Subtotal: $150,000

Grand Total: $7,500,000 $9,710,000″    (Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

$ 175,000 to the Latino Economic Development Corporation


Finally, one particular Maryland grant (see SB 460 above in Montgomery County) has raised serious questions from groups monitoring illegal immigration here (“. . .We continue to oppose tax funded loans to those who cannot or will not provide proof of legal presence in our country and state.”) and here about
using taxpayer money for the
Latino Economic Development Corporation Facility (LEDC).

Here is the LEDC website with their comment on this concern:

“No organization checks the immigration status of its clients nor does local government, schools, hospitals, or any other major institutions unless they are hiring someone for a job.  It is not the role of LEDC or any other institution other than the federal government to enforce US immigration laws.”

In our view, there can be no justification for taxpayer money going to establish or expand the businesses of those who do not have lawful presence in the U.S.  A prudent legislator should insist that any organization receiving taxpayer money for these purposes have a serious program to ensure that all its recipients are lawfully present in the U.S.

Soon all the documents will be available on this year’s capital budget. We plan to compile a list of those members flying under the conservative flag who voted for this budget and who sponsored visible pork in their districts. They served the taxpayer — if not well — at least served them right.

Didn’t somebody talk about a Tax Day Tea Party this coming Wednesday? Something about too much spending?  Or was that just about Washington, D.C. behavior?

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