Yesterday the House of Delegates completed work on the Capital Budget Bill. I wanted to speak a little more about the Capital Budget as a whole and share with you some of the highlights for Baltimore City.
The capital budget funds building, construction, demolition, planning, renovation, conversion, replacement, and capital equipment for State facilities such as parks, hospitals, and public higher education institutions. Additionally, it funds local projects in every Maryland county ranging from public schools to community health centers. This year’s capital budget authorizes a total of $1.09 billion in investments.
In late February, all three major rating agencies once again affirmed the State’s “Triple A” bond rating. Maryland has the distinction of being 1 of 10 states in the country to maintain such a rating. Our strong bond rating allows Maryland to make capital investments at a lower cost to taxpayers.
Investing in Education:
The legislature once again made public school construction a priority. The capital budget provides $285 million to build schools and modernize classrooms across the State, an increase of $5 million over the governor’s proposed allowance and the largest investment in Maryland history. This will be further supplemented by $4.8 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds pending the passage of legislation in the Senate. The capital budget bill also carries forward $5 million in school construction funding for Baltimore City from the current fiscal year that is to be used for air conditioning projects.
The capital budget makes a number of investments in higher education as well. Notable in the 43rd District is $2.1 million for the Behavioral & Social Science academic and research building at Morgan State University.
Preserving Baltimore’s Culture and Landmarks:
The capital budget makes a number of investments in Baltimore City’s cultural institutions and landmarks. There is $32 million earmarked for the State Library Resource Center housed within the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. There is $2 million each available to finish major renovations at Center Stage and the Baltimore Museum of Art. There is also $2 million for planning, acquisitions, construction, and repair at Lexington Market. The budget also includes $1 million to begin redevelopment of Rash Field in the Inner Harbor. The Great Blacks in Wax Museum receives $200,000 for renovation and expansion of their space on North Avenue.
Building Up Communities:
The capital budget provides $8 million in funding for the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative. BRNI provides funds for grants and loans to nonprofit community development corporations or coalitions to fund comprehensive revitalization strategies for sustainable community areas in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County. There is also $6 million available to assist with neighborhood revitalization efforts through the Community Legacy Program.
The capital budget also makes a commitment to affordable housing. There is $7.6 million available for homeownership programs, $6 million for the Partnership Rental Housing Program, $20 million for the Rental Housing Program which serve low- and moderate-income families. Additionally, it includes $3 million for shelter and transitional housing grants.
Investment in the 43rd District:
The capital budget funds several projects in and around the 43rd District. Manna House receives $50,000 for renovations and upgrades to their Charles Village headquarters, which will help them better serve their mission of providing meals to the homeless. The Woodbourne Center will receive $150,000 toward their vocational training program. While located just outside the 43rd District, the Hampden Family Center serves many families in the 43rd. They receive $100,000 towards their facility renovation.