Rushern Baker to 'reassure' Wall Street
Newly elected Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) plans to head to Wall Street Friday to offer assurances that despite economic challenges, his new administration is in a good place, financially speaking.
Baker, who inherited a $77 million budget gap from his predecessor Jack B. Johnson (D), has said he can plug it by making some judicious trims to county spending and without tapping reserves that are more than $100 million. The size of the county's reserves help it maintain its financial credibilty with the rating houses.
The county budget is expected to be about $2.7 billion this year.
Baker told the County Council late Monday, during the first day of its three-day retreat at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Md., that he plans to "reassure" the big rating houses that the county's finances are in order. Prince George's has a Triple A bond rating, a highly coveted assessment by Wall Street that enables it to borrow money at lower rates.
"We want to make sure we maintain that Triple A rating," he told the council. "Normally we would not go until after the budget is done," which must be completed by June 1.
Unstated by Baker, but also part of the equation, was the Nov. 12 arrrest of Johnson, and his wife Leslie Johnson (D), a member of the council, on federal charges of evidence tampering and destruction of evidence. The arrests caused a short delay in the county's issuance of some bonds because of eyebrows raised in the financial community.
Baker, who ran on a platform of cleaning up county government, recently unveiled proposed ethics legislation that he said would help the county shed its "pay-to-play" reputation. Some businesses and residents have complained it favors companies that are willing to make campaign donations and in other ways help out local lawmakers.
Miranda S. Spivack
| January 11, 2011; 8:11 AM ET
Categories: Prince George's County | Tags: Prince George's County, Rushern L. Baker III, Wall Street, bond rating, budget
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