Maryland's next governor will face issues that include improving education and the state's business climate and finding ways to bolster horse racing. The Sun sent questionnaires to the gubernatorial candidates concerning these and other issues. In preparation for the Sept. 15 primary election, here are edited excerpts from their responses
Charles I. Ecker
EDUCATION: A back-to-basics approach is needed. For example, use phonics to teach reading. Expect students to learn and to behave. If a child does not master the skills of a grade, the child Ecker should go to summer school or repeat the grade. More training should be required for reading teachers.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN GOVERNMENT: Move the State Ethics Commission from Towson to Annapolis and give it the authority to review lawmakers' financial disclosure forms. Also, the ethics commission should develop a continuing education program on conflict of interest concerns for elected officials.
IMPROVING MARYLAND'S BUSINESS CLIMATE: Have one department coordinate the review of business projects. We must work to help retain and develop small businesses.
HELPING HORSE RACING: I am opposed to slot machines at racetracks. If it is determined that the state should provide additional financial support to racetracks, let's get it from some source other than slot machines.
TOP PRIORITIES AS GOVERNOR: Education, jobs and streamlining state government.
EDUCATION: Maryland spends about 14 percent more on public educa Sauerbrey tion than the national average. But our children consistently score below national averages on measures of achievement. Last year, less than 40 percent of our children scored at the satisfactory level on the state's own test, the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. Clearly, Maryland taxpayers are not getting a very good return on their investment in education.
To ensure that every child reads at grade level by the third grade, we must test our kindergarten and first-graders to diagnose reading problems and learning disabilities and take immediate corrective action as needed. I would support tutoring, summer school and the use of computer technology to help such children.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN GOVERNMENT: The state prosecutor needs the powers to subpoena documents, immunize witnesses and require testimony under oath. The Maryland legislature refused to give him these powers this year. I would support legislation replacing the Joint Ethics Committee of the General Assembly with an independent committee that would include private citizens. I would also support legislation requiring the reporting of campaign contributions received before the legislative session begins during the first two weeks of the session.
IMPROVING MARYLAND'S BUSINESS CLIMATE: Reasonable regulation is necessary to protect the environment and to promote the integrity of business practices. Too many regulations make it difficult for businesses to remain profitable. I would establish a regulatory reform commission, streamline the permit process and reduce response time from such agencies.
HELPING HORSE RACING: In the long run, slot machines would probably kill horse racing in Maryland. I believe the answer for horse racing should be found in better marketing and financial restructuring, tax and regulatory changes and other options.
TOP PRIORITIES AS GOVERNOR: Ensuring public safety, promoting Maryland's own robust economic growth while protecting the environment and education reform.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening,
EDUCATION: Schools need better teachers, more teachers and better libraries. But schools and teachers cannot start Glendening the process that will lead to better reading -- that begins in the home with parents who read to their children. Over the past four years, we have increased state investment in operating assistance to schools by 33 percent -- that translates into more teachers, more books and better libraries.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN GOVERNMENT: I am awaiting the December report of an ethics commission that I appointed in April to recommend ways to strengthen ethics rules.
The executive order establishing that commission includes strict guidelines for the executive branch regarding contracts. We must continue to take appropriate steps to reduce conflicts of interest and increase the public's access to information regarding potential conflicts of interest.
IMPROVING MARYLAND'S BUSINESS CLIMATE: Maryland's business climate is stronger today than when I took office. Employment is at an all-time high; unemployment is at a nine-year low. More than 120,000 jobs have been created since my administration took office. Maryland has aggressively and successfully pursued high-tech and biotechnology businesses, and ranks third among states in the number of biotechnology firms.