Maryland Hall Cut a Pointless Blow to the City

By: Sen. John C. Astle

I’ve had the great privilege of representing the city of Annapolis for 33 years. During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with six governors and with colleagues from both political parties to find common ground on a number of issues. However, when Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed $2 million worth of capital projects for Maryland Hall, I have never felt more personally disregarded or felt that the city of Annapolis had been more disrespected.

Sadly, I, like other elected leaders, had to find out from the media, without so much as a call from the governor or his staff — and without explanation for why Maryland Hall was singled out among a capital budget that included hundreds of projects totaling over $1 billion. As chairman of the Senate delegation and a longtime supporter of Maryland Hall, I joined every other elected legislator, Republican and Democrat in total support of the project.

Maryland Hall is a publicly owned building that depends on support from both the private and public sectors and has a committed volunteer base dedicated to the arts. Maryland Hall has become one of the crown jewels of Anne Arundel County and Annapolis: home to the Annapolis symphony, opera, ballet and chorale; home for resident artists and, most importantly, a partner with Bates Middle School for the Visual Arts and other school programs in the county. It has been a community gathering place for inaugurations for county executives and mayors, and for political debates.

The money in this year’s budget was to address access and other needs for the disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act for a building that was built in 1932. Who would cut funds that would accommodate those with disabilities who want to enjoy the arts? Obviously, Gov. Hogan.

The reason given in the governor’s press release is that he was committed to a police barrack in Annapolis rather than Maryland Hall. We are all committed to a police barrack in the capital city. However, the funding for that project would come from the operating budget, not the capital budget. Under the provisions of state law, the cut to Maryland Hall can’t be redirected to the barrack or any other project.

Read the original article here.

 


(This article was written by Sen. John Astle and published by the Capital Gazette on June 5, 2015.)