A Good Idea for a Symbolic Gesture

I was reminded by an article in the Sun this morning about a symbolic gesture the O’Malley Administration could make to prove that they are taking proactive steps to address the budget shortfall other than just sticking it to taxpayers.

Sell Rocky Gap:

Nearly a decade after opening, the state-supported resort in Allegany County has struggled with operating losses that, while gradually shrinking, totaled $1.1 million last year. It has missed payments to bondholders, and the project’s owner, the Maryland Economic Development Corp., is negotiating with them to restructure the debt.

In fact, the resort is in danger of defaulting on its debt, said Bruce A. Myers, the state’s chief legislative auditor.

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“How long can this go on?” asked Myers. “Ten years from now, will there be a larger deficit?”

Rocky Gap is the kind of fiscally imprudent situation the state always seems to put itself in, particularly when you consider that it was virtually just a pork barrel spending project to benefit the home district of former House Speaker Cas Taylor. The state should know better by now than they cannot compete with the private sector when it comes to competing with private industry in competitive service businesses. And we have known for years about all of the flaws with MEDCO and the way their business model works.

The symbolism of selling Rocky Gap would make the administration look good. It takes the $1.1 million operating loss off of the books, provides a large influx of cash immediately, and it starts to get the state out of this particular business. It makes good policy and good politics, which is why it will be a non-starter with this administration.


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