Legislature Misses Golden OpportunityOur state legislators...


April 18, 1993

Legislature Misses Golden Opportunity

Our state legislators just don't get it. The Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Economy in Government (popularly known as the "Butta commission," after its chairperson, J. Henry Butta) presented to the governor 115 recommendations to streamline state functions and make agencies more self-sufficient.

The governor sponsored 42 bills incorporating 80 percent of these recommendations. Even though the Butta report was enthusiastically greeted when unveiled in January, State House leaders tore it to shreds during the session.

Of 19 personnel bills, ranging from giving agencies decentralized hiring control to streamlining employee grievance procedures, only one measure survived.

For more than a decade, Americans have demanded, in election after election, on issue after issue, more bang for less buck.

And yet during the recession of the early 1990s, our state leaders debated the same old options: fewer services or higher taxes.

Maryland needs to emulate what other cities, counties and states are doing in creating and nurturing new kinds of public institutions.

They are leaner, more decentralized and innovative, flexible, adaptable and quick to learn new ways when conditions change.

They embrace competition, customer choice and other non-bureaucratic mechanisms to get things done as creatively and effectively as possible.

We can start first with the Maryland budget process.

The current system encourages public managers to waste money.

If managers don't spend their entire budget by the end of the fiscal year, three things happen: They lose the money they have saved; they get less next year, and the budget officer berates them for seeking too much last year. Hence, you can always count on there being an end-of-the-fiscal-year spending spree.

By allowing departments to keep their savings, other municipal and state governments not only eliminate this spending spree, but encourage managers to save money.

Maryland needs to adopt a fundamentally new budget system which allows managers to respond quickly as circumstances change. It only requires two simple changes. First, it must eliminate all line items within departmental budgets -- freeing managers to move resources around as needs shift. Second, it )) must allow departments to keep what they do not spend from one year to the next, so they can shift funds to new priorities. . . .

Michael J. Finifter

Owings Mills


On April 4, this city went all out in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. It seems so ironic that the black community in this city would be celebrating this event when Dr. King's motto was non-violence. We in the black community are killing each other at a rate of one person a night.

I am sure when Dr. King preached non-violence, he meant non-violence not just regarding blacks and whites, but blacks and blacks. What excuse could we give this man if he were alive today? He worked so hard fighting for our freedom, going to jail for our freedom, and what do we do? Kill each other and go to jail for murder.

In the days that this city experienced segregation, Jim Crowism and discrimination, whites never killed blacks at a rate of one every night, or anything even close to that. At this rate, we are going to wipe out a whole generation of black males.

Can't we just put down the guns and remember what Dr. King tried to teach us? Non-violence means just what it says, non-violence pertaining to everyone. Please don't let this great man die in vain.

Gloria Downs


Ban an Insult

The ban on gun ads from private citizens in your newspaper is an insult to the law abiding firearms owners of Maryland and to the spirit in which the First Amendment was written.

We, meaning the conscientious firearms owners of America, have long been fighting for our Second Amendment rights. Now it appears we will have to fight for fair and equal treatment from those that claim protection under the First Amendment.

The Baltimore Sun maintains that this ban is for the betterment of the community, yet put forth no evidence that any firearm purchased through The Sun was ever used in any illegal activity. Now the innocent are being punished without any due process. In this same line of logic I believe you could find any number of items bought through The Sun for the express purpose of crime.

Also, ads for gun shows will no longer be accepted, but ads for events where the consumption of alcohol is the main event will be. And where there is alcohol there is smoke, great billowing clouds of smoke from tobacco products. Our great and benevolent friends in the media will never willingly give up their ad revenues from the sale of alcohol and tobacco products.

Lawrence D. Leese

Brooklyn Park

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