Mayor Rawlings-Blake Delivers 16th Annual State of the City Address

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Monica Lewis
(410) 387-8378

monica.lewis@baltimorecity.gov

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Delivers 16th Annual State of the City Address

BALTIMORE, Md. (March 9, 2015)—Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake delivered Baltimore’s 16th annual State of the City Address, which focused on growing Baltimore by making the city safer, creating more jobs and economic activity, promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship, restoring public trust in government, building new recreation centers and schools, ensuring children are healthy, revitalizing neighborhoods and celebrating the city’s arts, culture, sports and tourism.

As part of her address, Mayor Rawlings-Blake released her Strategic Plan for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Growth in Baltimore, which contains 20 specific action items to increase resources for small businesses, cultivate the innovation economy, promote and inclusive economy and make Baltimore more business-friendly. The plan includes the launch of a $1 million Innovation Fund to help small- and medium-size businesses adapt to the latest technology. Mayor Rawlings-Blake also announced that her budget proposal for the next fiscal year will include doubling the funding of the Small Business Resource Center

“New business owners tell us that the early support they received at our Small Business Resource Center was critical to their success,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “I have repeatedly said that my goal is to establish Baltimore as a destination for entrepreneurship, a place where small, local and minority-owned businesses can start and grow.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake noted that during her five years in office, Baltimore’s unemployment rate has declined by a third, according to statistics from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

“No one can deny that we have turned a corner,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “New families, new millennials, and new companies are increasingly choosing to make Baltimore their home, and more are choosing to stay. For the first time in decades, the City is growing.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake highlighted the successes of her two-year-old microloan program (BaltimoreMICRO), which has closed 21 micro loans, trigger more than $1.9 million capital investment, generated 106 new jobs and supported 130 existing jobs. More than half of the loans through the program have been provided to minority- or women-owned businesses.

This week, Baltimore City’s website will launch EconView, a new tool for citizens, business owners and potential new residents and investors to see what is being planned, built and developed in neighborhoods across the city. EconView is scheduled to go online later this week.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake confirmed that her budget proposal for the next year will include the next cut in her effort to reduce property taxes for residential homeowners by 20 cents by the year 2020. With this year’s cut, she will have reduced property the property tax rate by about 14 cents, resulting in a savings of more than $200 for the typical Baltimore City homeowner.

“Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a growing family, or a life-long resident, I want you to stay in Baltimore,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “I promised that I would reduce property tax rates, and that is a promise I am keeping.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake praised Commissioner Anthony Batts and the Baltimore Police Department for gains made in reducing crime over the past year, including a 10 percent decline in homicides in 2014. She also discussed how the department’s new system of scheduling will result in more police officers visible on the streets, particularly during peak times, ensuring a faster response time to citizen calls.

Describing the many steps that the department has taken to improve community trust, Mayor Rawlings-Blake highlighted that citizen complaints alleging both excessive force and police discourtesy are down, as are notices of lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

“We know the overwhelming majority of our officers treat our residents with dignity, respect, and courtesy. They wear the badge with honor and demonstrate reverence for the position they hold in our community,” she said.

To continue to build trust, Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced that the Police Department is moving forward with the recommendations of her body camera working group, with plans to put a pilot program in place later this year. “By taking time to evaluate different technology options and work through operational logistics, our police department can become a national leader in the use and implementation of body cameras,” she said.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced a “Call to Action to End African American Homicides.” The inaugural forum will be held later this month, with the goal of recruiting men committed to making a difference in the lives of children. “Of the 211 tragic killings in our city last year, 189 of the victims were African-American men. We need to end the violence in our communities,” she said. “Our African American men need to believe in their future.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake set forth her administration’s accomplishments in building new recreation centers and improving existing ones, and called on the City Council to give full consideration to her proposal to sell some downtown garages to create funding to build and upgrade even more.

While acknowledging the internal budget challenges facing the Baltimore City Public School System, Mayor Rawlings-Blake pledged to fight the proposed education budget cuts from the state. “We cannot allow the state to balance its budget at the expense of our children’s future,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “We must protect the progress we have made.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake said she will also continue to fight in Annapolis for the Red Line to move forward. “The Red Line is a jobs line, and we cannot let this opportunity slip by,” she said.

In addition, Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced that under the leadership of the city’s new Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore will expand its successful Healthy Babies initiative to school-age children through the B’More for Healthy Kids and B’More for Healthy Teens initiatives.

The full text of Mayor Rawlings-Blake's 2015 State of the City Address can be viewed or downloaded at mayor.baltimorecity.gov/sotc2015.

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