Seventy percent of Baltimore schools are in poor condition, and fixing them up is a $2.8 billion project. The city doesn’t have $2.8 billion. So what’s to be done?
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a plan this week to increase the city’s bottle tax from two to five cents; that would provide a projected $155 million in bonds. Add in funds from the yet-to-materialize slots casino, and the city is still far from the amount necessary… but, hey, it’s better than nothing.
It’s not likely to happen without a fight. When the mayor proposed an initial two-cent tax last year, grocery store owners and beverage lobbyists put up a fierce fight because they didn’t want business to b pushed into the county. More than doubling that initial tax is sure to raise hackles even more.
But city schools are undeniably in bad shape, and the undecided City Council members are sure to feel pressure from the mayor to support her cause. As it stands now, six of the fifteen councilmembers support the plan; the others are either undecided or in opposition. Our bet is that we can all look forward to a protracted battle over the issue.
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