Mayor sends city's fiscal wish list to governor

Requests include funding for schools, development

December 07, 2004|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

Mayor Martin O'Malley is asking Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for millions of additional state dollars to improve schools, fight crime and drug addiction, boost biotechnology and expand other programs.

O'Malley wrote to Ehrlich late last month and shared his six-page letter with the City Council at a luncheon yesterday.

His appeal comes with more political overtones than the average municipal wish list, because O'Malley is expected to run for governor in 2006 and the Democrat often blames the Republican governor for the city's financial woes.

"We hope someone down there reads it," O'Malley said.

O'Malley said former Gov. Parris N. Glendening used to meet one on one with him and the leaders of other municipalities and counties to discuss their financial needs. He said Ehrlich does not do the same.

"It's not his style," O'Malley told the council. "So we send him the letter."

Shareese N. DeLeaver, an Ehrlich spokeswoman, declined to discuss the requests. "It's premature at this point," she said. "Obviously, the governor's upcoming budget will reflect the fiscal reality of the state."

O'Malley said he will push particularly hard for funding for schools and juvenile justice programs during the coming legislative session. In his letter, the mayor asks for $30 million for school construction in fiscal 2006 and full funding of the $1.3 billion statewide education spending initiative passed by the General Assembly in 2002.

O'Malley seeks about $2 million for the city state's attorney's office, $2.5 million to help fight violent crime, $2.5 million for drug treatment and an unspecified amount to address staffing shortages at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center.

The letter also asks for increases in funding for economic development and revitalization projects: $7.5 million to revitalize the west side and various neighborhoods, including Reservoir Hill, Upton and Carroll-Camden; and $8 million for an east-side biotechnology project near Johns Hopkins Hospital. Funding for each in the current budget is $4.5 million.

"The East Baltimore Development project is a joint job creation and neighborhood revitalization project with Johns Hopkins and will be a major component in the state's biotechnology industry," his letter states.

The letter urges Ehrlich not to cut funding for state health and social programs, including those that provide medical assistance, child care and after-school activities to the poor. It also asks for a $500,000 grant for an employment skills program for ex-inmates and others.

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