Shepard opens campaign for governor with vow to limit spending CAMPAIGN 1994

May 17, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

HAGERSTOWN -- Republican William S. Shepard launched his gubernatorial campaign yesterday with a call for fiscal restraint but proposed a series of changes that could prove costly to Maryland taxpayers.

Mr. Shepard, a retired diplomat from Montgomery County who was the Republican nominee for governor in 1990, criticized departing Gov. William Donald Schaefer for taking Maryland "from tax and spend through borrow and spend . . . into gamble and spend."

"My vision for Maryland is a Maryland where state spending is finally brought under control," the 58-year-old candidate said at appearances in Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties. The stops were the first of 24 Mr. Shepard has scheduled this week to kick off his campaign in every major jurisdiction of the state.

On the stump, he sounds as if he is still running against Mr. Schaefer, who beat him 60 percent to 40 percent in 1990, when Maryland Republicans had trouble finding anyone to oppose the powerful Democratic incumbent.

Now, with Mr. Schaefer barred from seeking a third term, two other Republicans -- U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley and Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the House minority leader, both of Baltimore County -- are vying with him for the nomination. Although he carried a dozen counties in 1990, Mr. Shepard is now considered the long shot.

Yesterday, before audiences of 30 or fewer people at each of his first three stops, he said he would not raise taxes to cover millions of dollars in budget shortfalls the state expects to face over the next four years.

In an issues booklet distributed at each appearance, he also said he would oppose any increase in Maryland's gasoline tax, which he noted is already among the highest in the nation.

But in his speeches, in interviews and in campaign literature, Mr. Shepard outlined a variety of programs that could carry a high price tag. Among them:

* Giving preferential tax treatment to capital gains and unspecified "tax relief" to Maryland businesses.

* Creating a new Cabinet-level Department of Labor.

* Providing tax incentives for plants that substantially reduce toxic emissions into the air and water.

* Expanding MARC train service to Southern Maryland and Northeast Maryland.

* Limiting to the inflation rate tuition increases for students enrolled in state universities.

* Fully funding police training programs, hiring more parole officers and building more prisons.

Mr. Shepard acknowledged that some of his proposals would be costly but said others would save the state money. For example, he would like to repeal the "prevailing wage" law. He and other Republicans contend the law artificially inflates the cost of government public works projects by requiring union-scale wages, which could be higher than the local non-union rate where the project is being built.

He also puts great faith in his ability to save money by reordering the state's spending priorities and making government more efficient.

He told supporters that his efforts to stimulate the economy -- particularly in pockets of high unemployment such as Western Maryland -- would create enough new jobs and generate enough revenue to pay for much of what he is proposing.

"We will expand the economic pie for all, not just divide up what there is into smaller and smaller slices," he said.

Although the midday, workday turnouts for his appearances were small, those who showed up usually said they had backed Mr. Shepard in 1990 and were doing so again because they find him more down-to-earth and approachable than most career politicians.

"I like his background," 92-year-old David C. Trimble of Hagerstown said of Mr. Shepard, who was a diplomat in Asia and Europe, a security adviser to Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "The background of someone who hasn't been in politics brings something to the race that politicians sometimes don't see," Mr. Trimble said.

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