The state needed some fiscal leadership before budget...


November 30, 2001

The state needed some fiscal leadership before budget crunch

In a recent editorial on the budget crisis, The Sun stated that now is the time for "responsible leadership and deferred political gratification" ("Severe financial test seems certain for state," Nov. 16).

While the sentiment is correct, the timing is late. Fiscal leadership should have begun a year ago.

During the 2001 legislative session, Republican lawmakers warned our Democrat colleagues of the consequences of spending more than a half a billion dollars in rainy-day funds when indicators forecast a weakening economy.

We called for a return to traditional spending restraints that tied state spending to income growth. And we supported returning part of the surplus to taxpayers so the Glendening-Townsend administration could not spend every dime.

But in a public display of political bullying, Democrats threatened many of us with the loss of state funding for capital improvements in our districts if we voted our consciences on this most important issue. As a result, Republican legislators paid the price for voting against the administration's run-amok budget, which has left a projected $1.7 billion deficit.

Despite the political consequences, Republicans will continue to inform Maryland when we believe the limits of responsible spending have been shattered.

Larry E. Haines


The writer is the minority whip of the Maryland Senate.

Hiring freeze threatens the welfare of children

"How safe are our children?" asks Advocates for Children, Youth and Families in a recent advertisement. Gov. Parris N. Glendening's refusal to exempt child welfare positions from a statewide hiring freeze makes this a timely question.

Have the high-profile child protection cases that led to the Child Welfare Workforce Initiative of 1998 been forgotten?

The Workforce Initiative articulated qualifications for staff, required training and established competitive salaries. And, recognizing the importance of caseload size, the state's 2002 budget included 109 new child welfare positions in an effort to begin reducing caseload size.

The hiring freeze threatens to cripple the gains made by the Workforce Initiative and compromise the protection of Maryland's children. But surely a better way can be found to balance the state's budget than by endangering our children.

Judith Schogrin Scher


Employing federal workers won't make airports safer

Jules Witcover's column "GOP loss is a victory for airline passengers" (Opinion Commentary, Nov. 19) takes Republicans to task for their "abysmally partisan fight" over airline security. Now that the Republicans have been repelled, Mr. Witcover suggests, "Americans soon should be able to resume flying with considerably greater peace of mind."

The implication is that Democrats had no political stake in this fight, only, as usual, the welfare of a frightened country of air travelers. It is mere convenience that 28,000 new federal workers will be available for union membership, satisfying union leaders who can be counted on to spend members' dues on political (i.e., Democratic) campaigns.

Of course, Mr. Witcover offers not one syllable on why Americans should feel safe now that airport security workers will be paid by the federal government. Perhaps there are no syllables to offer, particularly in light of the performance of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and border police in this country.

Or perhaps Mr. Witcover simply takes us as brainless sheep who assume that if the federal government is involved, everything will be OK.

Doug Lombardo


Sun misses the facts about the moon

The caption with the picture of "Mood lighting" (Nov. 1) contained two errors.

First, it was not a Halloween full moon. The full moon for the Eastern Time Zone fell on Nov. 1. For the remaining U.S. time zones, it fell on Oct. 31. Therefore, the Eastern Time Zone will have a blue moon (the second full moon within the same month) tonight.

Second, the caption stated that this was the first Halloween full moon in 46 years. There was a full moon on Oct. 31, 1974, 27 years ago.

I realize that the paper is called The Sun, but please get the facts straight about the moon.

Frank G. Lidinsky


A welcome reminder of Anne Tyler's work

Thanks for Mary Carole McCauley's article on Anne Tyler ("Ghost writer," Nov. 18). I read all of it before I looked at the rest of my Sunday Sun.

The article makes Ms. Tyler's books even more interesting, and I will now obtain and read her latest novel, which I might otherwise have skipped.

Edna E. Heatherington


Dictatorship leaves Pakistan facing ruin

President Pervez of Pakistan is an opportunistic dictator. He has no intention of returning Pakistan to democracy ("Democracy extinguishes Muslim rage," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 23). He only agreed to support the United States because he had no other choice to save himself and his almost-bankrupt country .

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