After her State of the City address at City Hall, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake greets U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore, whom she thanked and praised during her speech. She delivered a somber State of the City address, warning of deep cuts to city services in the coming months as a result of a "devastating" budget shortfall. Comparing the fiscal crisis to the fire that destroyed much of downtown Baltimore in 1904 and the riots that tore across the city in the wake of the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rawlings-Blake, who was sworn in as mayor earlier this month, said the city faced a "true test" that will be a "matter of survival but also renewal." "Mark these words, remember them and factor them into our actions and decisions in the coming days," said Rawlings-Blake. "This $120 million deficit is brutal and will hit all of our citizens hard." The mayor pledged to trim 10 percent from her office's $6 million budget, eliminate bureaucracy and consolidate services, but offered few specific reductions. She promoted the city's progress in education and crime prevention and vowed to fully fund schools. The city can keep the same number of officers on the street and scale back the rolling closures of fire companies, "if we work together," she said. She made several veiled references to her predecessor, Sheila Dixon, who resigned as part of a plea deal to resolve criminal charges of embezzlement and perjury. Rawlings-Blake pledged to improve transparency and ethical standards to "restore trust" in city government.
Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna
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