As chief executive of C&P Telephone Co., J. Henry Butta was a no-nonsense manager who knew how to run a vast corporation at a high level of efficiency. Now he has produced a preliminary report on streamlining the state's $11 billion enterprise. Legislators had better take notice: Mr. Butta does not shy away from recommending significant changes to save taxpayers money and make government more self-sufficient and economical.
His Commission on Efficiency and Economy in Government, dominated by top business leaders, has drafted a short-term list of steps for legislators and Gov. William Donald Schaefer to save $60 million next year and many millions more in future years. This may be a fraction of what is needed, given Maryland's $1 billion deficit, but even these common-sense moves are sure to draw strong opposition. The success of these proposals will depend on the amount of backbone shown by General Assembly leaders, who so far have displayed more bark than bite.
For instance, the commission points out that taxpayers could save $1.3 million a year if motorcyclists were required to wear helmets. Will legislators finally face down the intimidation of biker groups? Or will they once again cave in when the motorcyclists rally in Annapolis to defeat this bill?