A prudent budget system The press has reported the...


March 24, 2001

A prudent budget system

The press has reported the dissatisfaction of some General Assembly members with their inability to transfer estimates of appropriations within the ceiling in the governor's budget ("Budget bill fails in Senate," Feb. 28). Perhaps a history of the Maryland budget would clarify why this ceiling exists.

The Maryland budget system was adopted in 1916 during a period of national budget reform. Frank Goodnow, the president of Johns Hopkins University, authored the Maryland executive budget plan and based it on the British example.

In 1951, Gov. Theodore McKeldin appointed the Sobeloff Commission to study Maryland's government, especially its budget system. It proposed putting the state's budget on the basis of program and performance.

In 1952, the state constitution was amended to effect this recommendation.

Under this provision, the budget was to be based upon programs the governor proposed. Consistent with the Goodnow plan, the governor's executive power was strengthened by preventing the legislature from increasing appropriations or amending his plan by transferring appropriations.

A governor must see that the laws are faithfully executed. To carry this out, he presents a budget to the legislature.

If the legislative body were to alter his plan, the governor might have to carry out proposals with which he disagrees and are contrary to law.

When the Congress appropriated funds for plans for the Air Force in excess of what President Truman requested in this budget, for instance, he impounded the funds.

After working on the installation of Maryland's budget and accounting system, I performed the same function for North Carolina, Washington and South Dakota. In addition, I have consulted with 34 other states and hundreds of local governments and foreign nations.

Among all these, Maryland's system stands out as an example of fiscal prudence and responsibility.

Change to the system should not be undertaken lightly.

John A. Donaho, Reisterstown

City will help dispose of trash

In the last year, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) has made it much easier for citizens to dispose properly of trash, building material and other debris at five convenient locations ("Ease dumping rules to end trash woes," March 10).

City residents can take their material for free to these sites Monday through Saturday, between the 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. All a resident has to do is show proof of residency and bring the items in his or her car, van or in an unmodified pickup truck of three-fourths of a ton or less.

The sites are at 6100 Quarantine Road, 5030 Reisterstown Road, 701 Reedbird St.. 6101 Bowleys Lane and 2840 Sisson St.

Baltimore also provides an array of trash removal services. In addition to twice-weekly door-to-door collection, the city has monthly bulk pickup. By calling 410-361-9333 three or more working days in advance of your scheduled collection date, we will pick up three bulk items at your house.

With the arrival of spring, we also kick off this year's Pitch In Program. Close to 1,000 of these community-based clean-ups occurred last year.

Under this program, neighborhoods arrange for DPW to provide brooms, rakes and gloves so citizens can dispose of materials from houses, yards, streets and alleys.

Mayor Martin O'Malley made it clear from his first day in office that improving the cleanliness of Baltimore is one of his top priorities. Baltimoreans responded by joining DPW in a variety of special clean-up operations last year.

The results were dramatic: In 2000, we collected 65 percent more debris from streets, alleys and lots than we did in 1999.

If we each take responsibility for our own trash and use the services the city provides, we can have a cleaner Baltimore.

George L. Winfield, Baltimore

The writer directs Baltimore's Department of Public Works.

Arafat's hands don't offer peace

The Sun's article "Arafat, Sharon speeches feature calls for harmony" (March 11) was grossly misleading as far as Yasser Arafat is concerned.

While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called for peace based on security and non-belligerence, Mr. Arafat has said: "Our hearts are open and our hands stretched out for the peace of the brave."

Those are sweet words. However, the latest roadside sniper shootings and the recent bombing in Netanya is proof that he and his followers' hands are stretched out with bombs and machine guns, not olive branches.

What is so brave about blowing up women, children and the elderly? Only cowards attack the weak and defenseless.

Mr. Arafat has made his decision to be a terrorist instead of a peace partner; he has chosen Hamas and Iraq instead of the United States and Israel for partners.

Since Mr. Arafat has called for incitement, the United States, European Union and Israel should call for his indictment based on terrorist war crimes. They should also call for the Nobel Committee to rescind his Nobel Peace Prize.

It's time for leaders of principle to call for accountability.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.