Gambling AddictionSadly our state government is addicted...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 09, 1993

Gambling Addiction

Sadly our state government is addicted to gambling.

The citizens of this state are not.

They did not "buy into" the state's plan to balance its budget by raising an estimated $8 to $10 million through the heavily advertised el Gordo special drawing.

Appropriately termed "el Floppo" in your editorial, the special drawing will show close to a zero profit. The state overestimated the ticket sales because it underestimated its citizens.

Every time the state experiences a fiscal crisis, Maryland implements another gambling game.

The cycle began in 1972, when the original state lottery was established. In 1975, lotto was added. In 1987, the multi-state lottery was authorized (but not yet used). That year also brought us the sports lottery for the Maryland Stadium Authority.

In 1988, we grew to have two lotto games each week instead of one. In 1990-91, riverboat gambling legislation was proposed. In 1992, off-track betting was authorized and is currently being implemented.

Each year, new "instant lottery" games have been added, games like match three, match four, and match five daily drawings.

What do the results of the latest special drawing show? The citizens of Maryland are tapped out and fed up.

Maryland, already addicted to the quick fix of a gambling revenue source, is counting on the addiction of its citizens. Our state is sending a message that education and hard work are not the answer. Gambling is the answer to all our problems.

The governor says keno will raise $50 million in the first six months; in other words, $100 million a year. I do not believe this and neither do the experts. But even if the estimates are correct, a new gambling game is not the answer to Maryland's budget crisis.

We must reduce the size of state government and re-examine state spending programs. Our citizens will support an intelligent approach to balancing our budget.

Parris N. Glendening

Upper Marlboro

?3 The writer is Prince George's County Executive.

Short-Changing the Students of Maryland

The regents of the University of Maryland System have missed the point.

Their hastily announced and equally hastily approved plan to cut course offerings, majors and entire programs and departments in the campuses of the system focuses far too heavily on apparent cost savings and fails to understand the true meaning of university.

Before going further, let me make plain that I am on the faculty of one of the affected campuses (University of Maryland Baltimore County). Thus, I am not a disinterested party. But, read on, I hope that what I have to say makes sense anyway. These views are my own.

The regents' primary rationale for the cuts is the stated missions of the campuses. Because UMBC's mission focuses on science, technology and public policy, we are slated to lose our accounting program and our social work and theater departments, among others.

Because of their missions, other campuses will similarly suffer cuts. For example, Towson State will lose upper division chemistry and physics and majors in those disciplines, in part because Towson's mission does not happen to include the words science and technology.

Cuts like these are simply not warranted on the face of it. UMBC's accounting program is highly cost effective and with a relatively small full-time faculty serves a large number of majors.

Moreover, its graduates achieve among the highest scores on the CPA examination of graduates of any program in the state. Cutting a popular, high quality, cost-effective program in the state program makes no sense.

Similarly, the UMBC social work department with a relatively small full-time faculty serves a large number of undergraduate majors.

Anyone who pays the slightest attention to demographic changes, trends in the field of human services and the needs of people would know that the field of social work continues to require trained, caring, knowledgeable persons. Cutting a program that educates and trains persons so that they can pursue careers of helping others when there is a demand for such persons and when the program itself is well subscribed makes no sense.

What about the theater program? UMBC's theater department is nationally renowned, especially for its productions, as anyone who has seen even one of the Shakespeare on Wheels performances will attest. And recognition achieved by its departments is how a university as a whole achieves recognition.

Is quality alone enough to preserve a program? It certainly should be a major consideration.

We can also understand why saving the theater program is important to UMBC if we understand what it means to be a university. A university is a place where young persons (and these days an increasing number of mature adults) can achieve a broad-based education that will serve them well throughout their lives, regardless of their ultimate career choices.

If this is so, is it possible to have a university without programs and departments that are at the core of this broad-based education?

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