Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 04, 2003

Defeat of bill on slots prompts foolish reaction

The responses of members of the power elite in Annapolis to the defeat of the Ehrlich administration's slots bill in the House Ways and Means Committee demonstrate a level of immaturity and vindictiveness that will threaten the well-being of many of the state's residents, the environment and our infrastructure ("Ehrlich's slots bill defeated by House committee vote," April 3).

The reluctance of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller to talk about compromise, consider tax increases or commit resources to study the impact of a very complicated issue verges on irresponsibility. It appears that the egos of the principal players in this legislative session have taken this debate beyond drama, and created a situation that now teeters between tragedy and the theater of the absurd.

The governor should be reminded that he was elected to lead the state responsibly. His failure to take the steps required to address the state's budget crisis will not be soon forgotten.

Aaron I. Schneiderman

Baltimore

After the House Ways and Means Committee voted down Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s slots proposal, the governor promised dire budget cuts that will hurt education, counties, state workers and others.

So I guess it's official - the governor likes slots more than people. To sustain Republican principles, Mr. Ehrlich would sooner make the weakest among us suffer than impose almost imperceptible tax increases.

Marylanders elected Mr. Ehrlich to make tough decisions and be responsible to our citizens about the budget. It's very unfortunate that he instead appears to be acting like a small child who is going to take his ball and go home because he didn't get his way.

If he insists on making the poorest Marylanders and our children bear the brunt of our budget problems, I'm sure the electorate will take it out on him next time around.

Dan Bierly

Baltimore

Speaker shows real leadership

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's threat to veto everything now that slots have failed reminds me of a child who takes his ball and goes home when he's not winning the game ("Ehrlich's slots bill defeated by House committee vote," April 3).

And if slots ever were the answer to the state's fiscal problems, why is the governor vowing never to introduce them again?

The false promise of easy slots money would only add to the state's deficit in the long term. And I want to thank House Speaker Michael E. Busch for blocking the push by Mr. Ehrlich and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller for a gambling tax.

Roger Fitzgerald

Hampstead

Putting partisanship before state's welfare

Is the General Assembly governing in the interest of Marylanders or is it trying to prove to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. that the state is still run by Democrats ("Ehrlich slots bill defeated by House committee vote," April 3)?

After the implosion of Maryland government over the last eight years of the Gov. Parris N. Glendening era, I was hoping that the General Assembly would be open to new ideas. Sadly, I am finding that I was wrong and that a Republican governor has no chance at all.

If the speaker of the House wanted to be governor so badly, why didn't he run?

If he wants to save grown adults from themselves by not letting them gamble, maybe he should have pursued a religious calling.

Robin M. Collins

Baltimore

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should be commended for coming to Annapolis with a plan to cut the deficit.

And I hope voters will remember when the next election rolls around that the Democrats got us into this fiscal mess.

The Republicans had a plan to fix it. But the Democrats decided against the plan because of partisan politics.

Mark S. Chaney

Forest Hill

Funding the arts boosts economy

A decade ago, then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the General Assembly joined with arts organizations and the business community and committed to stabilizing state funding for the arts. This commitment has always reflected the idea that a strong and healthy arts community is a powerful stimulus to economic development and tourism.

As a result of this understanding, legislation was enacted to shield the arts from wide fluctuations in state support. The agreed goal was for the state to provide 10 percent of a qualified organization's operating budget.

This year, the Maryland State Arts Council received $12 million, a relatively small investment with large and direct benefits. According to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in 2001, arts groups across the state generated nearly $1 billion in the economy and sustained 18,217 jobs. And for every $1 in state funding to the Maryland State Arts Council, approximately $3 is directly returned in local and state tax revenues.

Next year's budget for the Maryland State Arts Council is now in conference, with both houses of the General Assembly proposing severe budget cuts of between 20 percent and 35 percent. Such a level of funding would set the clock back more than a decade.

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