Close state budget gap with cuts
Money is to government like drugs are to an addict: The more one has, the more one wants. Only drastic measures can end the dependency.
The state's chronic budget problems are not the product of reduced revenues caused by an economic slow-down. Rather, recurring deficits are the result of unrealistic revenue forecasting practiced by a leadership that ignores the ebb and flow cycles of a dynamic economy. That leadership is focused on currying voter favor rather than pursuing sound fiscal management practices.
In the Dec. 30 issue of Insight magazine, Warren Brookes notes that the "strongest period of state revenue growth in history," from 1985 to 1990, was "overwhelmed" by a whopping 38 percent increase in state expenditures. The writer further notes that despite massive tax increases since 1980, California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina all have managed to end up with huge deficits. Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, on the other hand, "closed a $1 billion budget gap by spending cuts, and is projecting a $750 million surplus for the fiscal year as revenues run ahead of projections."
The only sane response to declining revenues is drastic cutbacks in spending and deep reductions in middle- and upper-management bureaucracy. I hope the General Assembly leadership will meet the budgetary crises not with the application of a Band-Aid but with a time-proven cure: conservative fiscal management.
Don't blame me. I voted for Sheppard ... the Republican ... Schaefer's opponent.
Before the holidays the Circuit Court of Baltimore County sent out summonses to hundreds of county citizens to serve on jury duty. We were to report Dec. 26 at 9 a.m. A call-in procedure is used to determine which of those summoned will actually serve any given day. We were instructed to call the day before the scheduled date ` which, of course, was Christmas.
I called in after 4:30 p.m. as instructed and the voice mail message said to call again at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 26. Since I was in Pennsylvania on Christmas Day, I spent more than six hours on the road returning home in order to call in at 11:30 a.m. on the 26th. When I made the second call I learned that jury duty had been postponed and that I would be recalled at a later date.
There must be a better system for advising jurors if they actually must report for duty than the present call-in system at the 11th hour.
Dorothy E. Miller
Forests for sale
Our national forests are a treasury of rare and precious resources. Carefully managed, they offer wilderness, wildlife, pristine rivers, breathtaking scenic beauty and recreation for all Americans and visitors from other lands.
But the U.S. Forest Service is selling off this vast natural inheritance ` and losing millions of dollars of taxpayers' money in the process. For every tree the Forest Service sells to the lumber barons for about $1 each, taxpayers pay about $1.50 to make the sale possible.
Thus we are paying welfare to the lumber barons and their employees. In the process, we are destroying our beautiful forests and the habitat of the endangered peregrine falcon and bald eagle, the grizzly bear and other wildlife.
General Motors recently announced layoffs of 74,000 people. By the time the dust has settled there will be over 1 million American jobs lost as a result of this one action. IBM and Westinghouse and other large employers are laying off. Even McDonald's is laying off. Retailers are complaining about poor sales. What is happening to our economy and our country?
While we are waiting for our leaders to wake up, what can we, as citizens, do? First, the next time you go into a store to buy something, stop and think: Where does the money I am spending on this product go?
When we buy a product that's made locally, we are helping to support our friends and neighbors. When we buy a product made within our state, we are helping other people to pay taxes. But when we buy a product that is imported, whom are we helping? It is time for us to make an extra effort to buy American and help ourselves.
No new taxes
The fact that our glorious spendthrift governor and Sen. Laurence Levitan are each proposing to take $700 million in the form of new taxes out of the pockets of Maryland consumers in the midst of a recession only proves only thing: Not all of Maryland's dangerous nuts are in asylums yet.
Charles A. Frainie
Waste of money
We need you, Hyman Pressman! Our newly elected comptroller not only thinks $19,000 automobiles are inexpensive, she also thinks paying $100,000 to hire a labor contract negotiator from outside the state is a "good buy." Imagine what she will be able to do with taxpayers' dollars when she gets more experience in office.
Albert J. Ritgert
Austerity at the top
The governor swings a mighty swift ax when it comes to cutting programs for the poor, the disabled and the needy. Yet when it comes to cutting the fat out of his own salary (a hefty $35,000 pay raise), he stops in mid-swing. He expects others to accept suffering and hardship at the hands of the state government, yet he refuses to be inconvenienced in any way by the state's $700 million deficit.
If Maryland has to do more with less, fine. But as governor of this state, William Donald Schaefer should be leading by example. Or is he incapable of that kind of leadership?