Waste of the Week: Baltimore Jewelry Center

This week for our Waste of the Week we travel from Frederick County into Baltimore City for a smaller piece of the pie. In this piece of legislation, HB0060, a trio of Democratic Delegates (Maggie McIntosh, Curt Anderson, Mary Washington), are proposing $75,000 in new debt in order to pay for building and repairs at the Baltimore Jewelry Center.

The Baltimore Jewelry Center is a non-profit which, according to their website, “…is an educational non-profit building a vibrant creative community for the study and practice of metalworking for new and established artists.” The center is a forum for local jewelry artists and a place where people can take classes on crafting jewelry. It sounds like an interesting little facility which provides a forum for a niche art community. The center is currently looking to expand and as part of their capital campaign is looking to fundraise to the tune of $575,000 for these upgrades. They have currently reached over half that goal through private donations through various charitable groups.

Now, here comes the question. Should we as a state put ourselves in debt in order to loan this organization money in order to upgrade their facility? I say no. With a massive structural deficit our current Governor is hoping to eliminate, why would we establish new state debt to fund pet projects in individual member’s districts? And better yet, what do we as a state get out of spending $75,000 as a loan to a Jewelry Center in Baltimore City. I know, it’s a lot less money than the previous one, but – in the end, they’re all waste – we need to profile them and small size doesn’t mean it should get a pass. There are a total of 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly (141 Delegates, 47 Senators). If every single one of them requested only $75,000 in new debt for the state to fund a pet project in their district, it would put the state $14,100,000 in debt. And that assumes the projects are all only $75,000. Pork adds up and needs to be eliminated.

Again, I go back to my fundamental question – what is the state of Maryland doing providing a $75,000 loan to a niche art studio in Baltimore City? How does that benefit the entire state of Maryland? It’s spending for the sake of photo opportunities for the Delegates proposing it. If Delegates McIntosh, Anderson, and Washington want to help they can always donate to the organization here, if they’re interested. They could fundraise to help them reach the $75,000 they are seeking from the state of Maryland as a loan. They could help them get an actual loan from an actual bank. I know this is a philosophical difference here, but I never saw the role of the state to be handing out loans to businesses, churches, or other non-profits to help them kick start some kind of event or building project. And there’s another route the jewelry center could take: Kickstarter, but I digress.

For that set of reasons and the ridiculous amount of debt our state continues to carry, HB0060 is this week’s “Waste of the Week.”

Congratulations to Delegates McIntosh, Anderson, and Washington for putting the state further in debt to gain votes in Baltimore City!

Feel free to submit your suggestions in the comments section of wasteful spending in Maryland.


Cross-posted from Old Line Elephant

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