Schaefer to Congress: Please send money STATE HOUSE REPORT

March 04, 1993|By Nelson Schwartz | Nelson Schwartz,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- Making his annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to address the Maryland congressional delegation, Gov. William Donald Schaefer called yesterday for millions of dollars in new federal assistance to the state for everything from health care to highway construction.

Echoing sections of his January State of the State address, the governor emphasized prevention as the key to restraining the state's soaring health care costs and swelling prison population.

The annual meeting was mostly cordial with the exception of a heated exchange between Mr. Schaefer and Republican freshman Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett on the public's regard for politicians.

Governor Schaefer had kind words, on the other hand, for President Clinton and his economic program, a turnabout from his endorsement of former President Bush in the waning days of last fall's presidential campaign.

Among the highlights of yesterday's presentation:

* Health care -- To lower costs, the governor said he would like to see greater access to prenatal care, "well baby" visits, and increased immunizations for Maryland children. He praised the president's plan to spend $300 million on childhood vaccines. He also called for more federal money for AIDS treatment.

* Welfare reform -- The governor urged the federal government to speed up proposed welfare reforms, improve collection of delinquent child-support payments, expand the availability of family planning assistance, and raise federal funding for programs like Maryland's Project Independence, a job-training project. Almost 5 percent of the state's residents receive welfare, he said, the highest since 1981.

"We must humanely reduce the number of children who are born to parents who cannot, or will not, provide for them," he said. "Low-income women should be assured access to all types of birth controls, state-of-the-art birth control technology, including new products such as Norplant."

* Education -- Mr. Schaefer lauded the Clinton plan for full funding of the Head Start program and asked for federal backing for state education reform, along with programs in math and science education.

* Crime -- Mr. Schaefer called on Congress to pass the Brady Bill, which would impose a waiting period on handgun purchases, and urged the state legislature to approve a ban on assault weapons. Repeating his theme of prevention, the governor also asked for increased federal funding for the Jessup Boot Camp, an alternative program for youthful offenders.

* Economic development -- In a bid to ease the pain of defense cutbacks around the state, Mr. Schaefer said he wants the federal government to release millions of dollars already appropriated by Congress for defense conversion. He added that Congress should pass legislation permitting the state to work with companies before layoffs rather than after. Current law makes it difficult for them to do that, he said.

He urged the Maryland delegation to increase the flow of federal ZTC dollars to state transportation programs and continue funding for improvements in the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, reconstruction of the Baltimore Beltway and other projects.

He also called for more federal help in building a high-speed rail link between Baltimore and Washington.

Other prominent requests include a $7 million research grant for the University of Maryland to help companies switch their products from military to civilian use, a boost in money for the Maryland Arts Council, and continued federal aid to Baltimore's Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration.

Mr. Schaefer said he was more optimistic at this year's session than at last year's, praising state officials for their help in cutting the budget. With more prevention, though, he said, "Think of the money we could save if we could insure Marylanders grow up healthy, if parents took responsibility for their children, and if we could avoid the loss of jobs."

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