Rawlings-Blake lobbies Washington on federal jobs act
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined mayors from across the country Tuesday to lobby Washington in support of the $447 billion jobs plan unveiled this month by the White House – even as the proposal’s future in Congress remains uncertain.
A half dozen mayors, including Rawlings-Blake, met Tuesday at the White House with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and senior advisor David Plouffe to discuss the plan, which would cut payroll taxes for employees and employers and pump $100 billion of new infrastructure spending into the economy.
Rawlings-Blake focused her remarks on a section of the measure that would direct $30 billion to modernize 35,000 public schools across the country. She noted the money could have a particularly significant impact in Baltimore, which is home to some of Maryland’s oldest school buildings.
“We can turn that around,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Our kids, like kids across the country, deserve to go to school in buildings that they’re proud of, buildings that are healthy, buildings that are safe.”
Rawlings-Blake is in Washington this week as part of a U.S. Conference of Mayors effort to support the jobs plan. Mayors meeting at the White House Tuesday were all Democrats with the exception of Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City.
Cornett said he supports the infrastructure spending included in the plan and said he would press his GOP colleagues in Congress to back it.
“The unattended maintenance on our interstate highways, on our bridges, on our railroads, on our water systems, in our airports, is unimaginable,” he said. “The president’s plan addresses a lot of these concerns.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been more cool to Obama’s plan, especially the new spending. The White House has proposed paying for the plan partly with new taxes on high earners. Rawlings-Blake said she believes a jobs plan focused solely on tax reductions might still be beneficial.
“For many cities across the country it is small businesses that are the backbone of the economy,” she said. “If we find out that that would be helpful, we have a whole new reason to be working hard to get this done.”
Asked about early estimates indicating that Maryland would receive $20 million to combat foreclosed and abandoned properties under a new program called Project Rebuild – the lowest allowed for a state under the bill – the mayor said she was hopeful the state and city could secure more money for the effort.