Be PrudentEditor: In response to your poll on Marylanders...

LETTERS

March 08, 1992

Be Prudent

Editor: In response to your poll on Marylanders sending a message to their legislators saying to ''raise taxes and stop slashing state programs'' -- this is indeed not what Marylanders are saying. What we are saying is that now that the governor has spent the rainy day fund that was left to him to use at times such as now, he has got us into such a state where we have no other choice but to raise taxes.

We should never have been put into a situation like we are in, and none of us wants any more of our money going to raise taxes, but since we have no choice, let's do it prudently. Let us raise enough new tax money to maintain the current level of services, and let's do it only until the economy bounces back and then at that time cut taxes back to the current level.

Richard G. Clayton.

Odenton.

Fish Wrapper

Editor: Before you get carried away by the happy results of The Sun Poll which concludes that the citizens of Maryland are begging state government to take what remains of our paychecks, please read carefully Peter Jay's commentary in the Feb. 23 Sunday Sun.

Peter Jay's appraisal of the on-going tax debate in Annapolis gives us the facts we need about the major players and real dollar amounts involved in balancing the budget. Polls, on the other hand, reflect the conclusion intended by the initiator of the poll.

Why do The Sun's editors insist on tax increases -- but never on downsizing government, program evaluation and spending priorities?

Why do The Sun's writers, even in the so-called news articles, repeat flawed statistics again and again? It is never explained that the ''billion dollar deficit'' includes very large spending increases based on the wish list of every empire-building department head.

The results of the poll on tax increases and the editorial declaring House Speaker Clayton Mitchell ''wrong'' will make excellent fish wrapper.

Georgia B. Benson.

Timonium.

Maryland Jobless Disqualified

Editor: The March 1 letter by Maryland's Economic and Employment Department Secretary Mark Wasserman might sound plausible to anyone unfamiliar with the facts at the Office of Unemployment Insurance but the statistics from his own research section show a picture quite different from the one he draws of trying to ''help those out of work.''

The figures show that out of 173,678 unemployed Marylanders in December, 62,413 -- or just 36 percent -- drew unemployment insurance benefits. Thus two-thirds of jobless Marylanders got no payments at all, though the U.S. Department of Labor reports that these people are ready, able and looking for work.

This is not unusual in Maryland. The AFL-CIO Department of Research shows that for the past 10 years Maryland has paid benefits to an average of only 32 percent of its unemployed citizens.

Far from trying to help those out of work, the unemployment insurance bureaucracy in Maryland apparently is devoted to protecting the low tax rate on employers by disqualifying as many jobless as possible.

Last year, the department disqualified 93,467 claimants for benefits for non-monetary reasons, such as quitting for no good cause (29,099), gross misconduct (8,802), disciplinary layoff (11,115), not seeking work (6,286), reporting requirements (10,629) -- any kind of an excuse to deny benefits and protect the sacred Reserve Fund.

For those claimants who challenge decisions, the department's appeals board has short shrift. Of 1,891 cases appealed last year, 71 were decided in favor of the claimant -- and 1,820 against.

In the face of the desperate plight of some 200,000 unemployed Marylanders, the only action a craven legislature is preparing to take is to make minor adjustments in the tax rates and increase penalties on those unemployed who, in the department's eyes, quit without sufficient cause.

Philip H. Van Gelder.

Baltimore.

The writer heads the AFL-CIO Committee on Unemployment.

Enough, He Says

Editor: If your readers had no knowledge of geography ("Take Back the Wretched Refuse of Your Teeming Shore," Perspective, Feb. 23), they might assume Haiti was situated off the coast of Florida. Yet by studying a map of the Caribbean you learn this is not the case. The Haitian boat people claim they are fleeing for their lives, but why can't they find asylum closer to home? It is rarely pointed out that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island, Hispaniola. Although the United States is a prized destination, it is certainly not the only possible one.

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