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Restore money to city schools

Baltimore City government seems to have a solid and lengthy history of giving tax breaks and incentives (TIFs and PILOTs) to developers of downtown and waterfront property such as Harbor East ("Developing Baltimore at the expense of its children," Feb. 13). For some reason, the Democratic-led city government, past and present, has bought into the Ronald Reagan economic theory of "trickle down." As we now know, despite Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's denial, these TIFs and PILOTs have had an impact on the wealth calculator that helps determine state school funding and is costing the city schools millions in lost state aid. It seems that the only "trickle down" comes in the form of financial gain for Inner Harbor East developer John Paterakis Sr. and his grandchildren's legacy. The children in the very city where Mr. Paterakis and the other big time developers make their large fortunes aren't even a consideration in the "legacy" equation.

Education could and should be the one great equalizer. A good education for all our children is vital to our city, our state and our nation. It is also vital for the economic success of the developers and their properties. People tend to want to live in and spend their time and money in a well-educated city. The children in Baltimore come to school with so much going against them that at the very least they deserve to have top-notch, well-funded schools that will provide them with a quality education!

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And it does take a village — including well-subsidized developers — to raise all our children. Wouldn't it be wonderful and so beneficial to our children and our city if Mr. Paterakis and the other developers believed in "economic patriotism" as their and their grandchildren's legacy? Economic patriotism would mean giving back to the city, the state and the country which has given so much to them. In the meantime, it behooves all of us to encourage and demand that the mayor, the City Council, the governor, the General Assembly and the developers who have benefited so nicely in this city to meet the three priorities outlined by Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, Rev. Glenna Huber and Bishop Douglas Miles: Stop subsidizing downtown development at the expense of our children, charge all city developers who have received public subsidies to make up the cuts the city schools are facing and work with legislators to change the state education funding formula to rely more on income rather than on property values. We all owe that to our children.

Bonnie and Elden Schneider, Baltimore

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