Glendening promises increased aid for poor Sauerbrey declines invite to poverty conference

October 09, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

At a conference on poverty yesterday, Gov. Parris N. Glendening promised, if re-elected, to remember those Marylanders who are often forgotten: the homeless, the hungry and the poor.

Courting a traditional Democratic constituency, Glendening told 300 advocates for the poor of his administration's efforts on behalf of the state's disadvantaged.

The event was billed as a gubernatorial forum, but Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey declined to participate.

"One of the roles of government is to be compassionate and fair and to help those who need help," Glendening said.

The governor talked of the hardships of his childhood, living in a shack without electricity outside Miami. He remembered "eating stewed tomatoes, night after night." But he said his family was more fortunate than many Marylanders who have even less food and no home.

Glendening touted several initiatives of his first term, including a recently enacted expansion of medical insurance for as many as 60,000 children and pregnant women from low-income households.

He pledged to do more to share Maryland's prosperity with the poor, if he wins his hard-fought re-election battle, but offered few specific commitments.

One activist wanted to know if Glendening would put an additional $10 million into drug treatment. The governor offered to increase spending but gave no exact amount.

In response to another question, Glendening acknowledged that under his administration, state aid for low-income rental housing dropped by nearly $5 million. He said he would "try to work on an increase" to restore the program's funding to the 1996 level of $13.7 million.

The forum was held by the Baltimore-based Center for Poverty Solutions. The Sauerbrey campaign turned down an invitation from the forum organizers two weeks ago, campaign aides said.

"We've got money to raise," said Jim Dornan, a Sauerbrey spokesman.

Organizers were disappointed and angered that Sauerbrey skipped the forum.

Robert Hess, head of the Center for Poverty Solutions, said the Sauerbrey campaign had assured him she would participate if Glendening did.

"The fact that she's not here, I think, speaks volumes," Hess said. "You have to wonder if it's an indication of her level of concern for poor folks."

Pub Date: 10/09/98

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