Delaying state tax cut sends wrong message on business...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 03, 2002

Delaying state tax cut sends wrong message on business climate

The governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 2003 would delay indefinitely the final phase of the 10 percent income tax cut passed in 1997.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce supported this tax cut as a way to make the state's business climate more competitive with those of other states. The delay would be a step backward that would send a negative message to individuals and businesses around the country.

For many Maryland businesses, personal income tax is a business income tax. Many small business owners operate their businesses as sole proprietorships, partnerships or limited liability firms. The income from such businesses is reported on the owners' individual tax returns.

Preserving the tax cut would thus encourage economic growth and job creation among these growing businesses.

As a business person, I understand the importance and difficulty of making tough budget decisions. During times of economic difficulty, businesses must tighten their belts, avoid new spending and refrain from dipping into reserves unless absolutely necessary.

I believe the same principles apply to the state government's budget process. While persuasive cases are made for increased funding of education, health care, transportation and other projects, the reality facing the General Assembly is that there just is not enough money.

In this moment of economic uncertainty, Maryland's leaders must keep their pledge to cut the income tax rate and ensure a long-term balanced budget.

William Couper

Washington

The writer chairs the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Purchasing vacant homes helps Hopkins, not the city

The mayor's plan to acquire and demolish thousands of homes - and spend millions doing so - will be more beneficial to Johns Hopkins University than to the people of Baltimore ("Mayor seeks control over 5,000 houses," Jan. 27).

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that many homes slated for demolition will be in neighborhoods surrounding the Hopkins hospital. This project will conveniently clear the way for Hopkins to proceed with its biotechnology park plans.

However, such a development will not "transform acres of wasted space into property with value," as the article suggests. Since Hopkins does not pay property taxes, Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposal will be a waste of city resources. Adding prestige to the Hopkins name is simply not adequate compensation for the city.

If the mayor cared about blight, he would focus on the reasons why houses become vacant in the first place - predatory lending, low wages and so forth. And if Hopkins really cared about the neighborhood it inhabits, everyone who works at the hospital would make a living wage.

Katy Gall

Baltimore

Stop voting for backers of failed social programs

Perhaps Michael Olesker and other voters should be questioning the failed state and federal programs that have systematically destroyed minority families, decimated our cities and made Maryland the most criminal-friendly and dangerous state in the nation ("Ehrlich trying to show empathy amid city's pain," Jan. 27)?

Most of all, raging city residents should stop voting for politicians who deliver more of the same, time after time.

Rick Burk

Columbia

Why ship al-Qaida thugs all the way to Cuba?

The Sun's "Lawmakers tour Camp X-Ray" (Jan. 28) has confused me even more about what the government is trying to accomplish by transporting a bunch of thugs halfway around the world to try to extract information from them that they may or (more likely) may not possess.

I think it's rather doubtful that we're going to get any significant intelligence about al-Qaida from these people.

And, at the very least, couldn't we have found some U.S. military installation on the other side of the world in which to house these "detainees"?

Greg Goodale

Woodbine

Islam filled a void in a neglected spirit

The story of John Walker Lindh is a true cautionary tale for parents and for all of us ("Explaining American Taliban," editorial, Jan. 28).

The failure to provide a strong value system for our children to cling to (or rebel against) is neglectful. Our children deserve guidance and a feeling of connection to a tradition of faith as much as they deserve the other things that we have come to regard as necessary in their rearing.

If we believe the press, Mr. Lindh needed something to fill the void in his spirit. Radical Islam was there, and he latched onto its all-consuming philosophy.

Erin M. Witherspoon

Timonium

Bush must come clean about his ties to Enron

I find it laughable that the president is now expressing outrage that Enron Corp. left its shareholders and employees in the dark about its woes ("Enron scandal leaves Bush feeling `outraged,'" Jan. 23).

Will his outrage extend to giving back all the donations Enron made to his campaign? Will there be a bailout of Enron employees along the lines of the one received by the airline industry?

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