Mayor Young, Other Maryland Leaders Call For City Stimulus Support
A crowd of Maryland officials made their cases for funding for cities in an upcoming piece of pandemic stimulus legislation during a virtual press conference hosted by Baltimore Mayor Jack Young on Monday.
Representatives on the federal level included Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Representatives C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes and Representative-elect Kweisi Mfume. They joined local officials from across the state, including Mayor Young, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich to advocate for relief money for Baltimore as well as counties and municipalities throughout Maryland.
“We're not going to be divided, because we all need the same resources to get our economies back up and running,” Young said.
Congress has already sent businesses hundreds of billions of dollars to companies to financially weather the pandemic as social distancing measures keep people in their homes.
Like those businesses, Baltimore is losing revenue: fewer people driving, traveling, and collecting paychecks means less in parking fees, tourism revenue and income tax for the city to collect. Months ago, Baltimore was projected to have a surplus for the fiscal year beginning in July; now, the city is projected to bring in about $100 million less and face a $42.3 million deficit. The city’s small surplus was eaten up within weeks of the pandemic, Young said on Monday.
The Democrat has said that layoffs are the last thing he wants, but that in this economy, any way to balance the budget is on the table. Van Hollen said an additional round of aid for cities, counties and other municipalities is needed to prevent layoffs of essential workers
“We know that all of you are experiencing incredible pressure on your budget, having to make difficult decisions,” he said. “You should not be making decisions to lay off frontline workers, police, teachers, firefighters, emergency personnel, and that's why we need another round.”
Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a letter with similar sentiments on Monday, asking that Congress provide relief funds to local governments facing massive budget shortfalls, such as Baltimore.
“We need Congress to step in so that we have flexibility in meeting the needs of our citizens and rebuilding our economies after this health crisis has passed,” Ferguson said.