HERE'S a thought-provoking editorial from the Prince...

Salmagundi

June 01, 1995

HERE'S a thought-provoking editorial from the Prince George's Journal:

"For some people, bumper stickers and window decals aren't enough. They have to make a statement with their license plates as well. There are vanity tags (FOXY, GODSGIFT, 2FINE and such for those modest souls). Message tags, often written in shorthand only the driver or 'Wheel of Fortune' aficionados can understand. And Bay tags, for the environmentally conscious individual.

"New on the horizon, the distant horizon, are education tags. A former Frederick County school teacher, concerned with dwindling funds for schools, believes the tags could generate much needed revenue for school construction. She's probably right. Cathy Ausherman's vision of tags adorned with little red schoolhouses is already a reality in at least one other state.

"In Alabama, such tags generated $695,000 for fiscal year 1994, according the Annual Statistical Report for Alabama. So far this fiscal year, the tags have generated $234,870 in revenue.

"In Alabama, regular tags for a passenger vehicle cost $23 plus property tax and issuance fee, said a spokesman for Motor Vehicle Registration. The education tags cost an additional $15, he said. Drivers can designate to which school district their extra license fee will go.

"With everyone looking for a way to fund schools without having to cut other programs or dip into rainy-day funds, this seems like a sound idea. There's one catch, though. Maryland law prohibits having more than one commemorative license plate at a time. Currently, the Bay plates, which expire in 1996, are the state's commemorative plate. Further, the plates are supposed to have some historical, environmental or geographical link to the state.

"This shouldn't be a deterrent. Lawmakers should put their heads together and find a way to make it happen. The Bay tags, which have done a brisk business since their introduction, still sell at a rate of 1,000 a week. Since 1991, some $6 million has been raised for the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Surely as many people care about education and would be willing to put their money where their mouths are."

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