Economic Policy Experts: Invest Now In Infrastructure, Schools

Maryland could lead the nation in enacting policies that promote economic prosperity, writes leadership for the non-partisan Maryland Center on Economic Policy in an editorial for The Baltimore SunTo be that leader, focus must shift to investing in a well-educated workforce, good-paying jobs and an effective transportation network. From the op-ed:   

Our state’s history of economic success is built upon past investments in the pillars of a strong economy: a well-educated workforce, good-paying jobs and a transportation network to move people and goods. These pillars, however, require maintenance and continued investment — which is where we are falling short. We need bold leadership from our state’s leaders to not take our strengths for granted and keep our economy moving so everyone has a chance to succeed. …

There are clear signs that the failure to invest in Maryland’s future is catching up with us. As Maryland dips in national education rankings, experts say we need to put more than $2 billion more into our education system to truly meet the needs of Maryland students. Ensuring that all Maryland students receive a top-notch education is important not only for those students but for all of us because it’s critical to maintaining a well-educated workforce and attracting businesses to the state. …

The state is also now in a good position to invest in state-of-the-art school facilities; up-to-date water treatment plants; and better highways, railroads and ports. By stepping up these much-needed investments now, Maryland would create immediate job opportunities while supporting long-term economic growth. Unfortunately, despite Maryland’s top-notch credit rating, the governor has in recent years insisted on capping state borrowing at an arbitrary level that doesn’t take into account inflation or the state’s needs. Reversing Maryland’s declining investment in infrastructure would promote economic recovery and would focus on an area of apparent bipartisan agreement following November’s national elections.

MACo has adopted a Local infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland (#LIFT4MD) and Strong and Smart State Funding for School Construction as top priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

MACo advocates for strong and predictable funding restoration to local roads and bridges – whose funding was slashed dramatically during the Great Recession and not meaningfully restored. MACo also advocates for a comprehensive assessment of the status, needs, and funding of critical infrastructure statewide. For more information on the LIFT4MD effort, see MACo’s website for details.

The State’s commitment to school construction funding needs to remain strong and smart – to best serve the modern needs of our schoolchildren, educators, and communities. Strong state funding will recognize modern cost factors as we achieve new environmental and energy standards, satisfy heightened needs for technology, ensure student safety, fulfill community resource needs, and mesh with evolving teaching methods. Smart state funding will provide flexibility for county governments seeking cost-effective solutions to meeting student and community school construction needs. A smarter state-county school construction program will reduce unnecessary regulation, revise processes to work alongside county budget decisions, provide a county voice in state school construction funding decisions, promote statewide and regional efficiencies, and provide a meaningful opportunity to pursue alternative financing for school construction.