Why a GOP budget won't raise taxes
Your Jan. 24 editorial, "Fairy tale budget in Annapolis," credits the GOP plan to balance Maryland's budget without a tax increase for putting "pressure on Assembly Democrats to increase their own budget-slashing efforts," and commends our "call to end government non-essential extras." But then you dismiss the budget as unworkable.
We would like to expand on several crucial points.
First, you accept as fact claims from a few Democrat "fiscal leaders" that our funding for public safety and corrections programs would result in the release of prisoners and the firing of prison guards. That is wrong. Our budget provides this department with a $15.8 million increase over current spending levels, $6.9 million of which is dedicated to the opening of a new prison.
Second, you say that the GOP budget holds spending "to last year's level." Our budget increases spending overall by $250 million over the current level. The entitlement programs mandated by federal law are funded at a rate 20 percent higher than the current level. Clearly, Medicaid is eating us alive (one in every four Baltimore City residents now qualifies for Medicaid benefits), and there are cost containment measures that must be undertaken, or it will crowd out the rest of the state budget.
Third, you call us anti-welfare because we suggest holding the AFDC grant for a family of three to #377 per month. But when welfare becomes more attractive than work, we shouldn't be surprised when the welfare ranks swell. When the value of food stamps and Medicaid are added to the benefit, and you calculate the cost of working (lunch, transportation, child care, FICA tax, etc.), a working family of three would have to earn $16,225 to attain the same disposable income. The system is broken, and this is a great opportunity to fix it.
Fourth, you cite - and agree with - the Democrats' charge that a Republican proposal is motivated by politics. But last spring, when the state budget came to the floor of the House, and Republican delegates offered a number of budget-cutting amendments, Democrats accused us of "grandstanding." This year we came forth at the start of the session and we're still accused of playing politics.
Why is it so difficult to understand that we are simply opposed to increasing taxes, further expanding state government and shrinking taxpayers' disposable incomes? We believe that a tax increase in a sick economy is akin to the medieval practical of bleeding a patient to speed his recovery.
Our budget is based on working with revenues we have, not on what we wish for. The ongoing debate ` something decidedly new in Annapolis ` shows that it's possible to have a healthy two-party system in Maryland. This is how a legislature should behave. It's called democracy.
Ellen R. Sauerbrey
The writer is minority leader of the House of Delegates.
The homicide rate in Baltimore has reached truly epidemic proportions. We are reminded of this each day by scanning the headlines of your newspaper's Metro section. However, the staff writers at The Evening Sun need to exercise more tact whe reporting these events. They seem to just "announce" that more murders have happened overnight, and that Mr. X is now the city's umpteenth murder victim this year.
Reading The Evening Sun, one could get the impression you writers want Baltimore to give Washington, D.C., competition in becoming the murder capital of America. Perhaps your writers should return to journalism school and learn to go beyond mere statistics and concentrate more on this epidemic's effect on the community.
Brian C. Dempsey
Why must America grovel at the feet of Japan like a lackey licking the boots of a taunting master? Like a trained tiger jumping through hoops?
Why must we dance to Japan's tune?
Japan exists as an industrial power only through the grace of America's strength, benevolence and stupidity.
If America imposed an embargo on Japan's "dumping," its industrial might would deflate like a punctured balloon.
How long will we tolerate Japan's stifling our industry and choking off American jobs?
Perhaps Mr. Bush is laying the groundwork for a multimillion- dollar speech honorarium in Tokyo.
And perhaps we should coin the word "dishonorarium."
August A. Conomos
Our government needs to encourage long-term savings and investment, prevent the further collapse of fragile financial institutions and stimulate jobs. Most of us also agree that this can and should be done without violence to the environment and the quality of our lives.