Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 02, 2003

Ehrlich's budget offers hope to the mentally ill

For providers and advocates of community-based services for persons with psychiatric disabilities and for service recipients themselves, the budget Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. unveiled was nothing short of astonishing ("Mental health proposal praised," Jan. 29).

Although more work remains to be done to stabilize the public mental health system, this budget is a huge first step toward ensuring that persons with mental illness have a chance to lead productive lives in the community.

As the governor noted, adequately funding community-based services is not only the right thing to do, but the fiscally sound thing to do, since it will spare Maryland's taxpayers the expense of unnecessary institutionalization.

We applaud the governor for his commitment to disabled people and his follow-through on his campaign promises.

Jeff Richardson

Catonsville

The writer is president of the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland Inc.

Cuts in child care hurt families in need

Completely ignored in the coverage of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposed budget is the devastating effect it will have on families in need of child care.

The governor's budget slashes more than $30 million from the Department of Human Resources' Child Care Administration, including cuts to the Maryland After School Opportunity Fund and to Maryland's child care credentialing system.

Child care is a necessary support for families, especially those moving from welfare to self-sufficiency. Without access to affordable, quality child care, parents cannot become stable employees - and an employee is only as reliable as his or her child care.

And these cuts will have a brutal effect on children.

Cathy Brennan

Baltimore

Curbing spending is cure for deficit

The editorial "Paying the piper" (Jan 24) begins sensibly enough, by acknowledging Democrats bear considerable responsibility for Maryland's $1.8 billion budget shortfall, but the logic ends there.

We're in this budget predicament because the spending growth during the boom years of the late 1990s far outstripped the growth in the state's population and the rate of inflation. But rather than suggest the obvious - bringing spending back into line - the editorial suggests a mixed bag of tax increases that would damage our fragile economy.

Most disturbing was The Sun's endorsement of an increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent, which the editorial defends by noting that the sales tax hasn't increased in 26 years - as if the natural course of things was for the state to take a bigger bite out of each sale over time.

The editorial also suggests an income tax surcharge on the wealthy. Sadly, such a measure could pass, because the wealthy make up a small percentage of the electorate.

But having the votes to take from the wealthy isn't justification for doing so. Might does not make right, and this is majoritarianism at its worst.

Paul Jeanne

Baltimore

Anti-slots zealots may pose real threat

While I believe any and all gambling should be controlled by the state, I'm tired of the self-righteous zealots who claim slot machines will lead to moral and financial ruin ("Groups unite to oppose slots," Jan. 16).

If that sentiment holds true, then liquor stores (alcoholism), restaurants (overeating) and retail malls (obsessive shopping) should all be closed down. But the seeds of compulsive behavior are planted long before one is given the opportunity to overindulge.

And yet those who preach the evils of slots are likely to shove their extremist beliefs down our collective throats.

Richard Crystal

Baltimore

Critics of prayer betray odd values

I find it incomprehensible that some of our state legislators are so thin-skinned that they would deny a Christian minister the right to pray in the name of Christ ("Christian prayers spark debate in Senate," Jan. 18).

If legislators want an innocuous little recitation that covers everything and touches nothing, let them engage a witch doctor to say something to ward off evil spirits.

Clearly, something is wrong with the value systems of some folks in Annapolis.

The Rev. W. Norman MacFarland

Boring

President is striving to protect Americans

What documents are The Sun's editors reading that make them think the U.N. inspectors in Iraq have been sent there to "find weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) ("A false choice on Iraq," editorial, Jan. 28). I believe the task of the inspectors is to verify Iraq has accounted for and destroyed the WMD it was known to hold as of the last inspections in 1998.

Further, according to U.N. Resolution 1441, Iraq is supposed to identify, produce and destroy additional WMD it may have developed and hidden since the last inspections. The inspectors' task is to verify that this has been accomplished. Expecting the inspectors to find hidden weapons would be mission impossible, perhaps achievable in a movie but not in real life.

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