When it comes to the state's hunger problem, Gov. William Donald Schaefer apparently is an over-achiever who had been held back by his duller classmates in the General Assembly, according to a "report card" issued today.
The Maryland Food Committee said Mr. Schaefer deserved a C-plus for his efforts during this year's legislative session, down slightly from the B-minus awarded last year to the governor, senators and delegates.
But the legislature fell to a D-plus, earning lower grades than the governor in three of the five "subjects" in which they were graded this year on the "Campaign to End Childhood Hunger" report card.
Linda Eisenberg, executive director of the Maryland Food Committee, said the legislators seem indifferent to national polls showing that hunger is one problem people are willing to pay more taxes to solve. "Their primary job is to get re-elected," she said. "It doesn't seem to be to represent the people or to espouse a high moral standard."
Last year, the governor was cited as deserving extra credit in some subjects. This year, the report card put him a class by himself, primarily because of his continuing support for a program that provides milk, formula, produce and orange juice to women and children.
However, both the executive and legislative branches fared poorly in one category, "Feeding Schoolchildren." They got D's for not reinstating cuts to the state's reduced-price school meal program. The subsidy was cut 25 percent last fall.
"In these tough times, schools may have to again raise prices, meaning more kids will lose their major source of food during the school day," the report card said.
Other categories on this year's card included:
* Feeding mothers and children: This was one of the state's weakest subjects until last year, when the governor agreed to include $1 million in state funds for the federal program known as WIC -- the Women, Infants and Children's supplemental food program. The change catapulted the state from an F to an A-minus. With this year's separate grades, however, the governor earned an A, while the legislature was downgraded to a C-minus, because the House of Delegates cut the allocation by half.
* Feeding Senior Citizens: Both the governor and the legislature received a C, down from last year's B. The state's elderly population is growing at a faster rate than the funding for the nutrition programs that assist them, the report said.
* Tax Reform: Mr. Schaefer deserves a B-minus for continuing to support changes in the state tax structure, but the General Assembly rates only a D-plus. "The legislature . . . passed a budget bill which cut services even further than the cuts last fall and raised revenues in a less equitable manner," the report said.
* Fighting Poverty: The governor received a C, while the General Assembly, blamed for cutting the state's Emergency Assistance program, received a D-plus. (It should be noted that the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee reinstated funds for burials, the major need served by the disbanded program.)