GBC issues priority list to candidates for governor

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Expanded tax credits and policies to spur business growth, including among minority firms, more state investment in developing Maryland’s life sciences business sector, and streamlined projects to accommodate growth from federal base realignment and closure (BRAC) decisions are among top priorities the Greater Baltimore Committee is recommending to candidates for governor.

The GBC today issued a report to candidates — incumbent Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley — recommending 23 action items and 13 other priorities for improving the region’s business climate. The recommendations in the 28-page report, entitled “Setting the Agenda – Governing through Leadership and Accountability,” were compiled by member CEOs from the GBC’s President’s Advisory Council and its Board of Directors.

Other top GBC action items include recommendations that the next governor work to significantly strengthen the region’s transit, both within the region and to Washington, D.C.; commit to using more “non-traditional” approaches to recruiting public school teachers, and increase the state’s budget for marketing Maryland’s tourism industry.

GBC leaders are also urging the next governor to continue to increase funding for drug treatment, and to conduct studies of the state’s tax structure and its transportation funding policies.

Specific “top priority” recommendations in the GBC report are:

Economic Development and Job Creation

  • Pass legislation expanding tax credits and other business incentives to spur economic development. Eliminate the existing cap on use of commercial historic renovation tax credits.
  • Strengthen minority business in the region. Promote the inclusion of minority-owned and women-owned firms as equity partners in emerging business opportunities and continue to reform the state’s MBE program.
  • Support the development of life sciences in the region by committing financial resources and leveraging opportunities to attract and develop bioscience companies. Invest sufficient funds to make the state’s life sciences industry highly competitive, maintain current advantages, and “command reasonable market share” of commercial applications emerging from the region’s research institutions.

Eminent Domain

  • Oppose a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes.
  • Oppose any legislative actions that would unreasonably restrict or inhibit a municipality’s ability to use eminent domain for economic development and to curb urban blight.

Base Realignment and Closure Process

  • Execute an executive order directing all state agencies to create a streamlined planning and permitting process to expedite planning and project approval of BRAC related projects.
  • Create a line item in the State of Maryland’s general fund operating budget for the appropriation of funds necessary to implement BRAC related projects.
  • Immediately update the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan (CTP) to fully integrate the road and transit projects that are needed to address the significant increased population and job growth resulting from BRAC and the additional demand on the regional transportation infrastructure.
  • Determine the amount of funds needed for the updated CTP and develop a plan for generating the required increased funding.

Transportation

  • Advocate for a regional approach to planning and implementing rapid transit projects.
  • Continue to fully fund the planning, design and construction of the Red Line from western Baltimore County through downtown Baltimore and to Southeast Baltimore.
  • Begin planning for the Green Line extension from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Morgan State University and to eastern Baltimore County.
  • Advocate for cost-effective connections between Baltimore and Washington D.C., including increased MARC commuter and Amtrak service, and continued study and public support of a Maglev system.

Education

  • Re-examine the terms and commitment to Baltimore’s City-State partnership in light of the federally-enacted “No Child Left Behind” initiative. 
  • Increase non-traditional approaches to recruiting, employing and retaining teachers and principals. Support legislation that offers greater opportunities for alternative teaching certification programs.
  • Endorse high academic performance standards and fully support policies to set, measure, and enforce them through sanctions and well-planned, detailed intervention strategies.
    Urban Policy
  • Adopt a comprehensive urban policy strategy addressing the challenges confronting urban life, including public safety and drug treatment, community redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization, workforce housing, education and workforce development, transportation, health care, and job creation.
  • Increase drug treatment slots.
  • Expand the state’s police aid formula by allocating additional funding for jurisdictions with high incidences of criminal activity.
  • Foster a cooperative relationship with the Mayor of Baltimore, county executives and the private sector in the city and region.

Tourism and Convention Center Funding

  • Propose and support legislation removing the sunset on the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of the Baltimore Convention Center’s operating deficit.
  • Commit to a significant increase in the state’s budget for marketing Maryland’s tourism industry to make it more competitive with neighboring jurisdictions and industry competitors.

Budget and Fiscal Structure

  • Establish an independent commission to study the State’s current fiscal structure. It should examine the state tax structure to ensure that it reflects the modern economy, is flexible to meet the changing trends in the marketplace, and provides reasonable growth to accommodate the anticipated increased cost of government. A similar approach should be applied to the Transportation Trust Fund.

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