With surplus on hand, it's time to repeal state's...


November 16, 1999

With surplus on hand, it's time to repeal state's inheritance tax

Maryland is one of only 12 states that imposes an inheritance tax and the time has come to eliminate this tax.

Our nation is in a period of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity and Maryland is riding this wave, with a state budget surplus of approximately $700 million.

If ever there is an optimum time to repeal a tax, it is now.

During the 1999 General Assembly session, I introduced bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans, to repeal Maryland's inheritance tax. Although this measure was narrowly defeated in committee, it gave impetus for passage of another bill, which reduced the tax rate modestly.

This was a step in the right direction, but anything less than full repeal does not provide relief to the individuals and families who need it most. Therefore, I will again introduce legislation next session to repeal fully Maryland's inheritance tax.

Some of my colleagues have expressed concern about the projected annual tax revenue loss this would cause, which is estimated to be about $50 million.

However, this forecast does not take into consideration the tax's administration and compliance costs, the loss of property and income tax revenues from family-owned companies and farms forced out of business or seniors who move to another state.

And even if there is a revenue loss, why can't Maryland do without this revenue when 38 other states can?

I call upon my fellow legislators to do the right thing for our working families, seniors and business partners, and eliminate once and for all Maryland's inheritance tax. It is the right thing to do.

Obie Patterson

Oxon Hill

The writer represents Prince George's County in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Students must be responsible for their own performance

Some things are truly American -- mom, apple pie and a disdainful attitude toward teachers.

Given students' varying abilities, respect for education and willingness to cooperate, placing teachers in competition with each other concerning their students performance is not a solution to America's educational ills.

The idea that teachers can make students learn -- with different instructional approaches, advanced degrees and other supposed panaceas -- is faulty at best, and disrespectful at worst. It's analogous to a physician prescribing medication for a patient who won't go to the doctor or take the medicine.

Would it be the physician's fault if the patient did not recuperate? Of course not.

Does this imply teachers should abandon the use of best practices for instruction, stop encouraging reluctant students, or forsake their own pursuit of professional growth? Of course not.

But it does mean that the responsibility for learning must be placed again where it belongs -- with the students and their parents.

Teachers must unite against linking teacher pay to student performance. Perhaps by vigorously taking this stand, they will receive the respect they deserve.

Connie Verita


Picture truly captured sadness of seniors displaced

Jed Kirschbaum should receive an award for his heartfelt picture of Gladys Stavely, a resident at the soon-to-close Church Home Hospital ("Leaving home," Nov. 1). That picture said more than words ever could.

Ms. Stavely must now search for a new home. My heart is sad for these residents.

Gretchen L. Schlenger


State's prepaid tuition plan provides no guarantees

The Maryland prepaid college tuition program is not, as The Sun's editorial "Trouble for taxpayers in prepaid tuition plan" (Nov. 6) stated, guaranteed to cover the cost of an in-state college. The plan is set up to cover those costs, with prudent saving and investing, but does not guarantee it, unlike similar plans in other states.

When the program does guarantee that, I am sure they will find that many Marylanders with young children will be happy to send in their money to lock in future tuition costs now. I will be among them.

Sam Akman


The Sun's editorial "Trouble for taxpayers in prepaid tuition plan" gave several reasons for the Maryland prepaid college tuition plan's problems, including "poor marketing" and "overly optimistic forecasts."

The editorial didn't mention other limitations, however. As grandparents interested in prepaid tuition, we began preliminary steps to establish such a plan.

First we were required to submit a non-refundable $75 fee. Then we learned that our funds would not be earmarked as an individual account, but would become part of a general fund -- which we found unacceptable.

As the editorial noted, more satisfactory plans are available through other investment avenues.

Katharine Kaplan

Abner Kaplan


World Trade Organization is a threat to sovereignty

I am writing to express my frustration over The Sun's lack of reporting on the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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