Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 24, 2004

Slots can't save state's cherished equine tradition

John Lee Jr. and Grove Miller's column on slots and horse breeding was disingenuous ("An industry at stake," Opinion * Commentary, March 21). Rather than provide a straightforward argument for passing a slots bill, they instead pull on our heartstrings, threatening us with the demise of horse-breeding farms and the undeveloped green space they claim these farms protect.

Their essay raises but ignores a critical issue: Other states have been more successful at promoting horse-breeding farms, and Maryland's industry is lagging behind. What have those states done to protect and promote horse farms? To what extent have those states relied on slots?

Surely, some of them have come up with answers that did not involve slots. We'd do well to learn from their example.

According to Mr. Lee and Mr. Miller, the only way to keep Maryland from losing our green pastures and the jobs of those who care for horses is to pass a slots bill. Shame on them. I would urge them to read the opinion printed next to theirs, in which Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest warns of the social and economic woes slots are sure to bring our state ("Fool's gold," Opinion * Commentary, March 21).

Slots will not protect our cherished traditions. Responsible fiscal planning will.

Annick Barker

Baltimore

Slots haven't ruined neighboring states

If gambling on slots is so bad morally and counterproductive economically, why does the state have a lottery ("Fool's gold," Opinion * Commentary, March 21)?

Maryland citizens go to the tracks in Delaware and West Virginia. They have slots, and those states seem very well run to me. What crime rates do they have, and how do their sales, property and income taxes compare with ours?

My impression is that West Virginia and Delaware have much less crime and a much lower tax burden than we do in Maryland.

L. Bloom

Baltimore

The state already endorses gambling

The arguments for and against slots and gambling offered on Sunday's Opinion * Commentary page ("An industry is at stake," March 21, and "Fool's gold," March 21) exemplify the speciousness of the respective positions.

If the horse-breeding industry deserves public subsidy, then the legislature should appropriate funds in the budget for that purpose on its merits, as it does for other programs. Justifying a completely unrelated benefit as a rationale for a specific revenue source is poor public policy.

But if gambling is opposed because it creates no "output," what is the justification for public support for the Orioles and Ravens? What is the "product" of a baseball or football game?

Since Maryland has already countenanced gambling as an approved activity through its lottery, the only regulatory issues relevant to other forms of gambling are those such as zoning issues and those that would concern other business licenses.

Paul M. Heid

Baltimore

There's nothing `fun' about higher taxes

In The Sun's article "Busch to call for tax boost" (March 22), state House Speaker Michael E. Busch is quoted as saying, "We're going to shake things up ... we're going to have some fun."

Perhaps tax increases are fun to Mr. Busch, but I doubt the already heavily taxed Maryland citizens will consider yet more taxes fun.

And a one-cent sales tax increase may seem minor, but for lower- and middle-class taxpayers, it could add $200 to a new car purchase, and maybe $300 or $400 to annual spending.

It is beyond reason that Mr. Busch finds involuntary tax increases in an already highly taxed state acceptable yet deems voluntary slots spending unacceptable.

Perhaps it's time for Maryland citizens to remind Mr. Busch and his liberal cronies again that we voted in 2002 for less, not more, government spending.

Don Imwold

Lutherville

Sales tax increase would hurt the poor

House Speaker Michael E. Busch's plan to increase the state's sales tax is a direct assault on the poor and middle class ("Busch to call for tax boost," March 22).

Doesn't he get it? The poor and middle class spend proportionately more of their income on items subject to sales taxes. And income taxes and property taxes are at least deductible on the federal side; sales taxes are not.

I would rather pay higher property taxes than see an increase in the sales tax.

I would rather pay higher income taxes than see an increase in the sales tax.

Jim Bard

Westminster

Busch should stop playing obstructionist

The more things change, the more they stay the same. House Speaker Michael E. Busch is proving that old adage true in 2004 ("Busch to call for tax boost," March 22).

The speaker has decided, once again, to play the role of obstructionist on the floor of the House of Delegates. His counterparts in the state Senate passed a slots measure last month that would go miles to provide the state the money needed to fully fund the Thornton education law and avoid saddling the state's citizens with additional taxes. But Mr. Busch has dug in his heels to play partisan politics.

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