When Michael Beatty, Kevin Plank and other developers started lobbying for their Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), both the developers and the city government knew very well that some part of the city would take a financial hit if there was less tax money collected. The way school funding from the state is calculated, the city government knew before the TIFs were granted that the schools would take a financial hit. So why is everyone surprised that the state is providing less money to the schools all of a sudden? The plan on how to deal with this should have been in place years ago.
When Maryland decided to allow slot machines and table games, taxpayers were told that the money generated from gambling would go to the schools. It did not. There was not an outcry from school systems and parents when this was discovered, as apparently they were quite fine it.
Now let's talk about really what drives the city and its tax base.
People in power tend to be married and have children. Gov. Larry Hogan is married and has children. I assume the editor of The Sun is married and has children. I'd bet all the top decision makers in the state, the city and the Baltimore are married and have children with the exception of Mayor Catherine Pugh. Because people in power are married and have children, they assume that parents are special people who deserve far more resources than people without children. Nothing is further from the truth.
If one looks at real numbers and facts they'll find the driving force of any jurisdiction is its single people without children. Single people give more money, time and care than coupled people and coupled people with children. Single people and people without children pay far more taxes than people with children. Baltimore would do well for its tax base to work on attracting more people who don't have children.
Single people volunteer more and spend more time taking care of family members and neighbors. The city's volunteer programs are staffed mainly by single people who don't have children. Here's a statistic the school system and parents aren't aware of, single people are more likely to volunteer for education and youth services than coupled people. Those wonderful volunteers that are helping out the city school system often don't even have a personal stake in it. Unlike their coupled counterparts, singles take more music and art classes, participate in more public events and civic groups, go out to dinner more often, and pursue more informal social activities.
So why is it the city and The Sun are bending over backward to keep parents and their expensive children residing in Baltimore? Mayor Pugh will fold just like all the other previous mayors who feel pinched by that greedy school budget. She'll target recreation and park programs that have already been stripped to the bone. We'll have fewer trees, fewer rec centers, fewer after-school programs. Maybe the city will quit filling potholes and we'll have fewer bike lanes and bike racks. Downtown will have fewer flowers because the schools are a beast that will never stop sucking down city resources. Most of all, there will be more taxes heaped on over-burdened city residents who are already at the breaking point.
But don't worry city government, the children aren't leaving and not coming back. The children, once they are educated and ready to work, will choose to live in the city all on their own. The young people come for the jobs when they want to work in tech, banking or health care. They'll come for the transportation and bike infrastructure when they realize they can't both pay their student loans and own a car at the same time. They'll come to the city to start a business to utilize our business incubators like Spark, Betamore and Beehive. They'll come for Baltimore Social when they want to get a little exercise and socialize. They'll come here to get an education at Morgan State University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Johns Hopkins and Coppin State. They'll come for the city's volunteer programs where they can learn leadership and do good at the National Aquarium, Reading Partners and United Way. They'll come to hone their tech skills at city hackathons and Code for Baltimore.
The young people will pay lots of taxes, they'll be involved in the community and they will care about the city. The public school system has very little to do with attracting these gold-standard citizens. It's time to cut the school budget.