'Our job is to educate' CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

October 23, 1994|By C. Fraser Smith

Q: What is your view of government's role? We're looking for a statement of first principles.

A: I believe very strongly that there is a need for limited, well-run and efficient government, but a significant portion of our effort must be toward business development and jobs. Our job is to educate, not just our kids, but the work force. Government has to provide basic services and try to assure safe communities.

I also believe there is a role for government in empowering people, in supporting those who are most in need in our society: the elders, the handicapped, the unemployed. This role ought to be one of support and not one of maintenance or handouts.

People should remember from whence they came. I was the first Glendening ever to go to college. I remember when I was 5 and we got indoor plumbing for the first time; I remember being very, very poor. The doorway for me was education. I remember my grandparents giving me the extra parental care I needed. That's why I put so much emphasis on supporting families.

An increasing number of families are headed by a single parent or both parents are working. Government can help provide a good environment for kids: to help with before- or after-school programs, to establish public and private day care centers in a supportive role to help working families stay together.

Our son, Raymond, is doing well in part because we could afford a really good care-giver who's been with us since he was born. I would hate to think what would have happened to us in our professional lives or to Raymond if we didn't have her. In Baltimore City, people are desperately trying to hang on to a sense of community. Our idea is to come in and help with things such as targeted job credits, mini-urban development action grants, modeled after the federal program used at the Inner Harbor. Projects of $250,000 to $1 million could help fringe areas make it. I think it's an absolutely legitimate role for government.

Q: How would you bring jobs into communities and work with people who have not had a long history of employment?

A: We tell employers if you bring new jobs into a target area, you get a rebate on the income tax that the employee pays up to 20 percent. If you bring a new manufacturing plant to South Baltimore and hire 10 people and they pay $1,000 state income tax each, the company for the next five years gets 20 percent of that back. But if you take someone on welfare, then you get a higher ratio back -- 50 percent for five years. What that means is the employee has a job, the state collects 50 percent tax and is no longer paying welfare, and the company gets a tax rebate. If you only got 1,000 people in such a program, you'd be making a substantial impact. Current programs don't match the real world. If we moved into those sorts of programs, we could have an impact.

Q: Your opponent talks about programs that don't work, that we can't afford and that you don't ever use.

A: Again, that kind of rhetoric. The last phrase is meant to be divisive, to pit people against one another. I believe the responsibility of being a leader is to pull people together. The first two parts of the statement, she's exactly right. We ought to ++ get rid of them. But in our society there are a lot of programs that different people don't use. But in our society if we don't have a disability, are we going to get rid of programs for people with disabilities?

Q: How much economic crime is there, crime committed by people who are poor, who feel they have no stake in the welfare of the community and no future?

A: I'm not sure people think it through. But you go into community after community -- and Baltimore is a sad but good example -- and you see young people standing on the street and the only entrepreneur you see is the drug dealers, the only jobs they see are $4-an-hour retail jobs, which they know they can't support a family on that money. Out of this it's awful hard to convince a person to stay in school. For what purpose?

That's why we have to bring opportunity right into these communities. Then you can say, "Look at this. This is a $35,000 job and one where you don't take a risk of being shot." I intend to offer those incentives, to assemble parcels of land and bring those jobs there.

Q: Your opponent says government programs may actually promote crime. If getting a government grant makes you feel you're owed an income, she says, it's a short stop to armed holdups.

A: I think it's good political rhetoric. It's fun to beat on welfare recipients. It would be about like saying disability payments lead to the same thing. What it means is that "I know it's good politics to beat up on welfare recipients."

Q: Some voters would say you've been talking about programs we've tried for 30 years. You're just throwing the same old ideas at us.

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