Everyone who lives, learns, works, shops, moves, eats, drinks, and flushes in Maryland depends upon its infrastructure – which has been severely underfunded in recent years due to post-recession cost shifts at the state level. Maryland Association of Counties’ latest call for more funding of local roads, bridges, and infrastructure made more than HALF A MILLION Twitter impressions on earlier this month as legislators, state officials, and other stakeholders were drawn to the campaign for more state funding of these necessities.
The Association organized a hashtag tweet storm on Tuesday, December 13, 2016. Local elected officials and those that work in infrastructure-related industries posted tweets using #LIFT4MD (Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland) to show the need for funding. The hashtag feed was quickly flooded with images of potholes, crumbling bridges, and broken water mains. Due to post-recession budget cuts during the O’Malley Administration, Highway User Revenues (HUR) and other state funding for local infrastructure repair and maintenance are at an historic low.
Twenty-one out of the 24 county jurisdictions in Maryland participated in the tweet storm. Through a series of tweets and Facebook posts using #LIFT4MD, 354 tweets were posted, potentially reaching about 300,000 individuals. Twenty-five local elected officials and four county executives made a point to raise their concerns over the lack of local infrastructure funding in Maryland, pointing out funding disparities such as “23 counties maintain 69% of Maryland’s roads but receive only 1.4% of highway user revenues #LIFT4MD.” Since the tweet storm, several legislators have reached out to MACo declaring their support or asking for more information.
Jerry Walker, Anne Arundel County Council Member and Chair of MACo’s Legislative Committee commented that, “Re-investing in infrastructure – a call being heard at every level of government – is good for Maryland jobs, business attractiveness, and quality of life across the state. Through the #LIFT4MD tweet storm, MACo is shining a bright light on the need for better funding for road maintenance, bridge repair, school building upkeep, and 9-1-1 centers: services and facilities we NEED to keep our residents safe.”
A reinvestment in local roads, bridges, and infrastructure is one of MACo’s four legislative initiatives during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.