A Quick Fix That Accomplished LittleYour Nov. 20 editorial...


December 10, 1992

A Quick Fix That Accomplished Little

Your Nov. 20 editorial on Maryland's decision to cut $147 million in state Social Security contributions to local school boards gave the impression that the budget fight was simply a conflict between Montgomery County, our richest school jurisdiction, and the rest of the state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No one familiar with the needs and economic realities of Prince George's County would ever label it "rich" or "elitist." However, the county has the largest school district in the state. Our delegation overwhelmingly opposed the budget plan because it recognized that our pocketbooks are not big enough to absorb millions of dollars in new costs without our classrooms suffering.

The plan was also strongly opposed by the Howard County delegation and some representatives of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Frederick County and Southern Maryland. These legislators realized that over the long haul counties with growing school-age populations are the ones who will pay the price for this ever-increasing permanent cut in state aid to education.

It is ironic that Maryland, which has made education its highest priority, would now target our schools for a severe and disproportionate reduction of state funds.

The reality of this deficit reduction plan is that state government was not reduced. No departments were consolidated, no unnecessary programs or mandates were eliminated, no wasteful management was brought under control. Instead the state merely shunted this long-term financial responsibility to education back to the counties.

The wisdom of this plan will ultimately be judged by our constituents. I predict that as their local officials begin the painful debate of whether to cut essential public services, shut down classrooms or raise taxes, they will see the plan for what it is: a quick fix that avoided real solutions, was unnecessarily divisive and accomplished little.

Del. Joan B. Pitkin


The writer is vice-chair, Prince George's County delegationMaryland House of Delegates.

AIDS Roulette

The teen-age pregnancy rate in Baltimore is alarming. Something drastic needs to be done. But Norplant is not the answer.

Baltimore officials seem to have completely overlooked the risk of sexually transmitted diseases in their quest for solutions.

Yes, Norplant can keep teen-agers from becoming pregnant. But will it keep them safe from AIDS, a disease whose infection rate among today's youth is rising?

Instead of spending $20,000 on a promotional tape for Norplant, why not spend money on a similar video about condoms, which not only protect against pregnancy but also disease?

Who says that someone who won't go to the store to buy condoms will go out and get an operation to achieve similar results?

Norplant should be a contraceptive for monogamous women who are sure their partner is safe. Promoting Norplant to teen-agers is like promoting Russian roulette.

Jamie Fontaine


Curran and Keno

I applaud The Baltimore Sun editorial board for its strong opposition to the state's expansion of legalized gambling through keno. I am concerned, however, with the way in which my role in the decision was portrayed in your editorials. I have neither "gone along" with the keno "deal" nor "opted out" of the controversy.

As attorney general, I did answer questions from state agencies about the legality of offering the new keno game, and I advised that keno could be started under the existing contract; indeed, the original contract even mentioned keno as an expansion option. I have yet to hear anyone suggest that this legal advice was incorrect.

Not every policy decision with which I -- or The Sun -- disagree is illegal. Would you want an attorney general who skews legal opinions to fit his or her policy inclinations? That is simply not the right way to run the attorney general's office, and I will not do it.

It particularly irked me to read that I had given the keno contract my "seal of approval." In testimony before the legislature and otherwise, I have expressed my reservations about measures to expand legalized gambling in our state.

I will continue to do so in the future and will take another opportunity here: Trying to balance the books on the backs of compulsive gamblers and others who cannot resist the lure of non-stop state-sanctioned gambling is a regressive tax, particularly in these tough economic times. Keno is a serious policy mistake.

J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


The Proud Maryland National Guard

I'm writing in response to Jonathan Paul Yates' Opinion * Commentary article, "The National Guard in Changing Times," Dec. 2. Here's a little history of Maryland's National Guard.

Maryland's citizen soldiers trace their roots back to St. Mary's County in 1634, where the first European settlement formed a volunteer night-watch to protect its citizenry.

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