Maryland Can't Go On Like ThisEditor: The continuing...


February 09, 1992

Maryland Can't Go On Like This

Editor: The continuing deceleration of Maryland's revenues and the futile attempts being made to deal with an ever-accelerating deficit clearly indicate there is something radically wrong with our state government. Maryland seems unable to predict its resources and appears confused about how these resources should be allocated.

The problems facing Maryland are not going to disappear any time soon -- and they certainly are not going to be solved by cutting off funds to the counties, downgrading the quality of education, furloughing state employees or downsizing individual state programs to a point of ineffectual inefficiency. Nor will they be solved by hastily-conceived increases in those individual taxes deemed to be the least painful.

I, for one, would be willing to pay more taxes if I had any confidence in the state government's ability to solve its problems and intelligently manage its resources.

We have a crisis of confidence. What is needed is a complete and thorough plan for Maryland's fiscal future based on an impartial investigation and detailed evaluation of every aspect of state government.

I tend to agree with Governor Schaefer, who proclaimed that ''there can be no more business as usual. The government will never be the same and we have to recognize that fact.''

Maryland must re-assess the scope of what it does as a government. It must painstakingly analyze each and every service it provides, the manner in which they are delivered and whether or not the state can afford them.

How do we develop a plan to deal with this critical situation?

I strongly urge the state to proceed at once with an in-depth study of its total operations. Outside expertise should be utilized to insure complete objectivity and lay the groundwork for future private sector support, should it become necessary to raise taxes. What better investment than to hire the expert services of those who have faced these problems elsewhere?

Currently, at least eight states on the East Coast are undergoing this type of soul searching. North Carolina, for one, has enacted legislation requiring a state government performance audit and backed it up with a $3 million budget for outside staff and consultants.

I applaud the governor's action in appointing the Butta Commission to investigate cost-saving measures within the government. It is a good first step, but I question how effective it will be without adequate funding and a road map provided by an objective, outside team of consultants. The old business school bromide -- ''if you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there'' -- was never truer.

Jerald S. Sachs.


The writer is president of (Capital) Centre Group.

Empty Desks

Editor: These days we readers are being forced to bid farewell to many of the men and women whose reportage whose opinions whose finely honed stories we have enjoyed for years.

As we have seen, the buyout offer at the Sunpapers was accepted by more staffers than the publisher had imagined. From columnist extraordinaire Pat Furgurson to fishing guru Bill Burton, all will be missed. The Sun cannot come even close to being the same, without those talented people.

There are many who say the day of the newspaper is past. It is said that the audio actuality of radio and the video clip and hair stylings of television have supplanted the well-turned lead-sentence and the in-depth research of the great metropolitan newspaper.

I don't believe that contention. But with empty desks on North Calvert Street, it will be an added burden on the remaining Sunpapers staff to refute it.

Walter Hill.


Without a Helmet

Editor: The issue over the mandatory helmet law has been rekindled since California put its law into effect. The fight over freedom of choice and the raw fact that helmetless riders are costing taxpayers millions are the two main views.

am an avid motorcycle rider and a firm believer in motorcycle safety. I took the Maryland motorcycle safety course and was impressed by the knowledge and practical skills I learned.

I am also a believer in the human spirit. I do not want to make this a melodramatic discourse, but I think it is prudent to understand the unexplainable exhilaration which consumes a helmetless rider.

I spent 10 weeks last summer touring the country on motorcycle and, while most of the time I wore a helmet, there were a few instances in which I rode without one.

I am aware of the significant decrease in head injuries and fatalities to helmeted riders, but those people who have never ridden should not enter into this debate.

I do have a solution that seems to make sense. A person who decides to ride a motorcycle without a helmet should also take the responsibility of having adequate insurance to cover the expenses in the event of a serious accident.

A person who can't afford the high premiums does not deserve the right to ride without a helmet. This issue isn't just about freedom. It's about responsibility, too.

Todd A. Sapre.

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