Tax cuts and spending in the governor's race Contrast: Sauerbrey vague on financing tax reductions

promises by FTC Glendening exceed revenues.

October 11, 1998

MARYLAND'S two contenders for governor hold starkly different views on tax and spending issues. It's where the liberal-conservative gulf between Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey is most apparent.

Ms. Sauerbrey's prime theme, as it was in 1994, is tax cuts -- a fat reduction in income tax rates and far lower taxes for seniors. Mr. Glendening's focus is on enlarging state programs. You name it and he's promised more money.

Neither candidate is being candid. The Republican challenger avoids the unpopular question of how she would underwrite such huge tax cuts; the Democratic incumbent fails to explain how he would finance his add-ons.

Both are pandering to voters, but from different directions. Ms. Sauerbrey believes citizens want lower taxes even if it means fewer services. Mr. Glendening feels Marylanders want more services above all else.

Whoever is elected on Nov. 3 will be brought back to reality in a hurry by a General Assembly that won't accept pie-in-the-sky campaign rhetoric. Both candidates ought to give voters some tough talk about achieving these goals.

That means Ms. Sauerbrey should specify how she would find the money to give Marylanders large, permanent tax cuts.

Does she embrace the wildly optimistic and often erroneous budget cuts recommended by her conservative think-tank, the Calvert Institute? Does she intend to freeze departmental spending?

How can she deliver on her tax-cut pledge and her promise of 1,000 more teachers, annual raises for state workers and huge sums for roads? Will she use the large state surplus to finance her tax cuts?

That last option should be resisted. It would create a new peril: A huge budget hole once the surplus is spent. We have repeatedly noted that one-time surpluses should only be used for one-time expenses.

As for Mr. Glendening, he owes it to voters to come clean. How will he pay for his largess? Where does the money come from for billions in mass transit projects? Can the state afford a four-year, billion-dollar school construction program?

Truth in campaigning is sorely lacking. Mr. Glendening and Ms. Sauerbrey need to fess up: Paying for their pet proposals won't be painless, or easy. Marylanders deserve to hear the cold, hard facts before, not after, Nov. 3.

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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