A coalition of advocacy groups today will start a postcard campaign to persuade key legislators to reverse Gov. William Donald Schaefer's massive state budget cuts and support restructuring of the state's tax code.
TEAM -- Tax Equity for All Marylanders -- which comprises more than 50 groups representing 1 million people, will try to persuade citizens to sign and send 10,000 postcards to the delegates and senators who head key committees in the General Assembly.
The mass mailing was in the works before Schaefer announced $450 million in budget cuts, but this week's events forced the coalition to move quickly, said Lynda Meade, a lobbyist with pTC Associated Catholic Charities.
"The irony is that, before the events of this week, we all decided we had to do something to move ahead," said Meade. "What we're doing had been in the works."
Meade said her "conservative" rundown of the governor's cuts adds up to $220 million in funds lost for human services. That calculation does not include the elimination of the education program in the Division of Correction, or individual jobs lost in some counties.
She said the aim of the postcards is not to fight the cuts, but to force the state's lawmakers to rethink their position on the state tax system, Meade said. "We're calling on our legislators to be bold."
In particular, the group is calling on four senators and delegates: Sen. Laurence Levitan, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee; Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly, chairman of Finance; Del. Charles J. Ryan, chairman of Appropriations; and Del. Tyras S. Athey, chairman of Ways and Means.
"I care about kids, education, the poor, handicapped and elderly," each postcard states, "and I urge you to be bold and enact a more fair and equitable tax structure that raises significant revenue."
About 10,000 postcards will be sent out in the first round, but coalition members hope a second and third round will follow. "It would be great if each one got 8,000, 10,000 postcards," Meade said.
Groups represented by TEAM include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Maryland Alliance for the Poor, the Baltimore Urban League and the Metropolitan Education Coalition.