Legislators fighting to fund key services show real...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 16, 2002

Legislators fighting to fund key services show real leadership

I applaud the stand state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. has taken by resigning his subcommittee chairmanship to protest proposed budget cuts ("Coalition backs delay in state income tax cut," March 7).

In an age when politicians are perceived as always looking out for themselves, it is refreshing to see a public servant who truly puts the concerns and interests of his constituents first.

While it is true that our state is facing a tough budget situation, we cannot make the mistake of sacrificing our future for short-term political gain.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has wisely invested in the critical areas that will ensure Maryland's economic growth and success in the future. The education of our children, the protection of our environment, health care and the safety net for our most needy citizens might not make as catchy a sound bite as a tax cut, but they are far more important.

Will the $75 the average family will keep if the final installment of the income tax cut goes through be enough to provide teachers and supplies for its children's school? Enough to buy old photos of a clean Chesapeake Bay to show their kids or the purifiers needed to clean their drinking water? To cover even one prescription for an aging relative?

The answer is no, and that's why we need more leaders such as Mr. Van Hollen fighting for what is truly important.

Joseph Shapiro

Burtonsville

In a recent article about the state's ever-expanding budget deficit ("Lower Md. revenues predicted," March 8), key leaders in the General Assembly were adamant about following through with the final installment of the planned state tax cut.

Thankfully, other legislators are willing to be true leaders under these difficult circumstances, and argue for a delay in the tax cut. There are too many critical unmet needs among our most vulnerable citizens, those with developmental and psychiatric disabilities, drug addiction and health care needs, to justify following through with the tax cut as originally proposed.

Most Marylanders would happily forgo their $75 tax cut this coming year if they knew these and other needs were being addressed.

In difficult times, more than in any other, we need our state leaders to lead. In this case, the decision is difficult but the answer is clear.

Brian Cox

Baltimore

Cutting wasteful spending is the way to balance budget

The Sun's editorial decrying Maryland lawmakers' struggle with budget cuts to achieve a balanced budget and its recommendation that they delay tax cuts is another example of The Sun's muddled liberal slant ("Budget cutting pain peaks in Annapolis," March 8).

Have you ever considered focusing on the bloated and wasteful state programs? Or the fact that Maryland is one of the highest-tax states?

Robert D. Moore

Cockeysville

Thwart cigarette tax by kicking the habit

Several letters have decried the tax increase on cigarettes proposed by the Maryland legislature. One suggested the motive had nothing to do with public health but was simply a way for lawmakers to amass sufficient funds to increase their salaries ("Raising the cigarette tax benefits only legislators," March 11).

That has a certain logic to it, but what can be done? No one likes paying more taxes, but most of us are law-abiding citizens. Yet there should be some way to derail these nefarious plans.

After pondering this for several days, I was struck by an ingenious insight, a way to show those lawmakers where to get off, while legally denying them their filthy lucre: Quit smoking.

Sig Seidenman

Owings Mills

School vouchers breach our social contract

If we allow our government to fund private schools in any way, we take the first step toward dismantling the social contract that holds us together.

Suppose someone didn't like to drive on public roads because that person felt they were poorly maintained and patrolled. Surely such a person could build his or her own private roads or subway lines, but should not expect to receive a tax voucher for not using the public ones.

And I do not expect a voucher to buy books or computer games or admission to the zoo because I do not use the sports stadiums built with public money.

Like it or not, our tax money goes into a general fund that is spent on a wide array of public services as our representatives decide. We do not get to pick and choose, and we do not get rebates or vouchers for portions of those services we do not use.

Carl Aron

Baltimore

Encourage cruise lines to come to Baltimore

After reading "Port told not to go overboard on cruises" (March 1), the impression I formed was that the state and the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) do not want cruise lines coming to Baltimore.

They hired a Florida consultant, who said Miami is a better cruise ship port than Baltimore. Why didn't the MPA hire a Maryland firm?

The cruise lines made the decision to come here; they know their business.

Patrick Heim

Baltimore

Don't question our will to combat terrorism

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