Councilman Carl Stokes said that by not holding a vote on a proposed bottle tax increase he is keeping the legislation alive.
"The committee—I’m keeping the bill alive—the committee doesn’t want it," Stokes said.
Stokes, who represents Remington and Charles Village, made his comments in an interview following his appearance at the Baltimore Education Coalition’s rally at the War Memorial Building on Monday.
Stokes stood up before the rally, which was held in part to show support for the tax increase, and said he wants the city to reevaluate its total budget and not just depend on a bottle tax for school construction. When asked during the rally if he would let the bill out of committee Stokes did not answer.
Stokes is the chairman of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, which the bottle tax increase must make it through. Councilman Bill Henry and Councilman Warren Branch serve on the committee and have expressed reservations about the tax. Councilman Bill Cole and Councilman Edward Reisinger are also committee members have expressed support for the tax increase.
Watch the video of part of Stokes appearance at the rally above.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed raising the tax from its current 2 cents a bottle to 5 cents a bottle as part of a plan that would leverage $300 million in bonds to help build more schools.
Stokes said that he wants to reorder the entire city budget because the city is only spending 11 percent of its budget on education.
In an interview following the meeting Stokes said that he has held a hearing on the budget, but that members of the committee do not want to pass the legislation and that he was keeping the bottle tax alive.