A Sound Foundation

Originally appeared in The Rawlings-Blake Review issue #211

To grow a city, we have to keep ourselves on a fiscally sustainable path. When I first became mayor, Baltimore City was burdened with a historic budget deficit. While some may have thought it was natural result of the Great Recession—which many major cities were facing—I was unwilling to kick the can down the road. I knew we had to make tough decisions and give the taxpayers the responsible government they deserve.

With urgency and vigor, we crafted Change to Grow, the City’s first Ten-Year Financial Plan. In the years since, we’ve made amazing progress. Under this plan, we wrote down the $750 million structural deficit by more than $300 million—and we’re just getting started!

Recently, we received additional confirmation that we are on the right track. This week, S&P upgraded Baltimore’s bond rating to AA from AA-. This is the first bond rating increase the City has seen in seven years! Our new AA rating signals a growing confidence in Baltimore as a hub for economic growth, and it affirms the economic progress the city has made since I became mayor.

Baltimore is also quickly becoming one of the nation's cornerstones for tourism. This week, I had the honor to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), who are holding their inaugural International Crown tournament in our region. This amazing competition features the best female golfers from across the globe.

And just yesterday, we learned that Baltimore was named as the host city for the NAACP’s 2016 Annual Convention! Baltimore’s rich African American heritage and culture is celebrated and laced throughout the fabric of our city, and the NAACP's own proud legacy is still thriving in Baltimore City today. Our NAACP branch is among the first established in the nation, and the NAACP's official headquarters on Mount Hope Drive has called Baltimore home since 1986. So, needless to say, we’re delighted to bring the 2016 NAACP convention home!

Events like these further showcase that Baltimore is truly a world-class destination. Our growing role as a top tourist destination also helps improve the quality of life for residents as well, by offering more fun, accessible, safe, activities while infusing our region with new jobs and other economic stimuli.

We will continue to make investments to expand tourism—such as the new Horseshoe Casino, which will open next month. Horseshoe Baltimore means more business for our local tourism and hospitality economy, more investment in Baltimore’s gateway community, a reduction in property taxes, increased investment in our children’s education, and most importantly, more jobs for our residents.

We will continue making the decisions that are necessary to ensure the financial future of Baltimore, while offering attractions for all ages and interests. By building on a sound foundation, I know we can continue to grow Baltimore.

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