Lower taxes, less regulation uniformly favored at meeting

August 25, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The key to overcoming the state's negative business reputation is regulatory reform and fewer taxes, Carroll County's General Assembly candidates told the local Chamber of Commerce last night.

The state needs to cut capital gains taxes, continue to reduce income taxes and spend more money on building highways and less on developing mass transit, said the 10 Republicans and two Democrats who participated in the political forum in Westminster.

But that won't happen, said incumbent state Sen. Larry E. Haines of Westminster, unless a Republican occupies the governor's mansion in the fall.

"I've been a proponent of the bypasses needed in this county -- Hampstead, Westminster and Manchester," said Haines, who is unopposed in the primary and general election. "But it's not going to happen under the present administration."

The best way to get rid of many of the regulations that business finds offensive, said incumbent state Sen. Timothy R. Ferguson of Taylorsville, is to "elect a Republican who will veto the nonsense that comes across the governor's desk."

Democrat George Hayes Littrell Jr., who seeks to oppose Ferguson in the general election, said regulatory reform could occur under the present administration.

No state regulation should exceed a federal regulation, Littrell said, and when it comes to enforcement, state regulatory agencies should be cooperative rather than confrontational with the business sector.

Jerome J. Joyce, an assistant Carroll County state's attorney who opposes Ferguson in the primary, said the way to make the state more business-friendly is to "ask business what it needs and then cooperate."

Joyce suggested one way government could cooperate would be to set up a collection program to help businesses get rid of their toxic waste.

County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who is seeking a seat in the House of Delegates, also called for more cooperation.

"We need less of a gotcha and more of a helpful attitude" from regulators, he said.

Democratic incumbent Ellen Willis Miller told the audience that she received an 85 percent approval rating from the state Chamber of Commerce.

She said the General Assembly eliminated 15 "nuisance taxes" this year and can do more next year. Maryland now has a "strong" business environment, Miller said.

The candidates also were asked whether they would raise taxes, given predictions of deficits.

Incumbent Del. Donald B. Elliott of New Windsor seemed to be speaking for all candidates when he answered: "No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes."

"There is plenty of room to cut," said incumbent Republican Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster.

Challenger Carmen Amedori of Westminster said, "We can continue the track of reducing taxes and government spending."

The chamber was asking the wrong question, said Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty of Manchester.

"The question is why is a budgeting shortfall projected," he said. "It's because of the failed policing of the administration" of Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

W. David Blair of Manchester and Roy Pfeiffer of Union Bridge, who are seeking seats in the House of Delegates, also participated in last night's forum. Pfeiffer said most of Carroll's taxes are spent elsewhere in the state. Blair said "more effective leadership is needed" in Annapolis if the state is to become more business-friendly.

Pub Date: 8/25/98

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