Today I was sent a copy of the State Center opposition letter that Comptroller Peter Franchot sent to state agencies on Friday. You can read the entire letter here. It's a powerful letter that you should read. Franchot and I agree that the state of Maryland should not spend money it does not have on risky commercial real estate projects during a devastating economic downturn. I know there are a lot of emotions tied up in the project, but the city, state, and country are hitting economic walls and we are all going to have to get used to the elimination of projects and programs that appear to bring money and stability into our communities. The State Center debate is actually a smaller version of the national debt ceiling debate. We need to stop incurring more debts and start paying back old debts. The party is over.
Many people will say that the Comptroller is only doing this for political reasons. Franchot clearly wants to run for Governor in 2014 and he is taking a side on an issue which conflicts with those who follow the current Governor, people like Anthony Brown and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who could also run for Governor in 2014. It would be a shame if Franchot is only doing this for political purposes, but even if he is, I believe he is on the right side of this issue and in the long run his stand will help get the state back on the correct economic path.
The Coalition to Save Downtown Baltimore has released the following statement:
"We applaud Comptroller Franchot's decision to oppose any further support for the massive $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded State Center project.
Comptroller Franchot is absolutely correct. Times have changed, and in the midst of the greatest recession since the Depression, it makes no sense to squander over $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars on this ill-advised project.
Now is not the time to gamble on speculative and unnecessary ventures that only add more office supply to an already saturated market. With over 2 million square feet of vacant space in downtown Baltimore available to be rented at a considerably cheaper rate, it’s time to scrap the State Center project as currently proposed."