The near-consensus view from the men and women running to become Baltimore's next mayor is that the city should double the funding for after-school programs, create 1,000 more summer jobs for youths and renovate all city schools.
The obvious question is this: Why not 10,000 summer jobs? Why not quadruple funding for schools? Why not restore blighted neighborhoods, too?
All those things are about as likely to happen, given the reality of city finances, as the promises made at Thursday's candidates forum in East Baltimore. Perhaps no one thought to mention that Baltimore is still reeling from unemployment and a dreadful economy and that increased government spending — no matter how well intentioned — is no longer a viable option.
Please, don't misunderstand. These are all worthy causes. The BUILD agenda that all of the assembled mayoral candidates at the forum endorsed (with the exception of
But the reality is, the city is facing deficits, not surpluses. The latest economic forecasts are dreadful. The nation's second-quarter job growth fell to a scant 1 percent annual rate, according to the latest Commerce Department statistics released Friday. Consumer aren't spending and jobs aren't being created.
Tough talk about the city's budget isn't what people want to hear. Politicians long ago learned that it's easier to promise a chicken in every pot than face the reality of a poultry and cookware shortage. It's human nature to prefer good news to bad.
Nor would we suggest that the city shouldn't change some of its budget priorities. It's merely that if someone is going to promise to spend more money, he or she ought to be required to explain how any proposed expansion in taxpayer-funded city services will be financed. What taxes will be increased and/or what current spending will be cut?
It's frustrating that Baltimore had to cut summer jobs. That's a program that helps reduce crime and offers young people a vital opportunity to be productive members of society. It was the last program to fall under the budget ax this year, and perhaps there are legitimate savings to be found elsewhere that might rescue the program in 2012.
But cutting funds to the