Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 31, 2004

Credit Busch for confronting fiscal realities

House Speaker Michael E. Busch has been under fire for his bold legislative moves to address Maryland's fiscal deficit and fund the Thornton school-aid plan ("Doubts grow on slots-tax compromise," March 28).

But the speaker's plan confronts the state's long-range fiscal problems - in stark contrast to those of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and others, which dismiss any major options except legalizing slots at racetracks.

The speaker's plan would amount to a tax increase of about $100 a year for the average family.

For that amount, Marylanders would be able to help solve the state's financial problems and avoid the corrupting influences of legalized slots and the social ills they would bring. What a small price to pay to protect the quality of life that so many of us enjoy.

Talking about taxes is a tough issue for politicians. But there is no free lunch. To solve the state's fiscal problems and help pay for better schools, the state needs to cut government spending, increase taxes or legalize slots - or some combination of all three.

In the meantime, let us recognize the speaker's efforts for what they are - a responsible and well-thought-out plan put on the table as an alternative to predatory slots.

Don Schroeder

Annapolis

The writer is the bishop's deputy for public policy of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Why can't lawmakers learn to live with less?

C. Fraser Smith asks in his column on taxes, "What's not to like?" about the proposed tax increase ("A chance to have it both ways in Annapolis," (Opinion

Commentary, March 28).

What's not to like is the usual explanation that it is only going to cost me $20 a year.

Every time a tax increase is proposed, people emphasize that it will only cost a small amount - and often the price of a meal at a fast food restaurant is used as an example of how little the average taxpayer is going to have to pay.

After years of these small tax increases, I find that in my budget I can only afford to pay for meals at a fast food restaurant. Enough is enough.

Wanda Hurt

Columbia

C. Fraser Smith asks "What's not to like?" but fails to look at the bigger picture.

Looking at the incremental cost of a simple tax increase would be fine if we faced only one taxing authority. But in reality we have at least three taxing authorities - county, state and federal.

Each one rationalizes its tax hikes in the same way. And each has multiple means of increasing the small slice it takes.

The legislature is asking us to make do with less. Isn't it about time for it to do the same thing?

Mark W. King

Columbia

Stand up and raise revenue state needs

C. Fraser Smith's column regarding taxes and slots might be the best observation yet concerning this issue ("A chance to have it both ways in Annapolis," Opinion * Commentary, March 28).

As a senior who is retired, I don't want to pay any more taxes, either. But, please, is 1 percent more going to "drive" me to Delaware, the no-sales-tax state? Not at the price of today's gasoline, not to mention the tolls.

The public cries for better schools, more services and fewer "fees," but nobody wants to pay.

Am I against slots? No. Am I against taxes? No.

Will the governor and the legislature stand up and be counted, do what is necessary and stop the double talk?

That is why we send them to Annapolis.

Matt Smith Sr.

Forest Hill

Let the citizens decide on slots

Let's put the slots issue on the ballot, and let the citizens of Maryland decide if they want slots or not.

Also, the citizens should be the ones who decide if the racetracks should share in the profits or if the state alone should own and operate the slots facilities.

John Zagraiek

Dundalk

High taxes do push business out of state

When it comes to increasing the burden on Maryland's taxpayers, The Sun's constant drumbeat in favor of raising taxes, heard again in the editorial "Budget myths" (March 26), proves that it just doesn't get it.

The sales tax is the most regressive form of taxation practiced by our state. It unfairly taxes the poor and the middle class, who spend a far larger percentage of their salaries on taxable goods.

Pennsylvania does have a 6 percent sales tax, but it exempts clothing. Many Marylanders do cross the state line to purchase clothes there.

As a business tax auditor for the state, I can also assure you that many Maryland businesses also make many large purchases in Delaware, a next-door neighbor that has no sales tax at all.

Had the legislature not committed huge spending to unfunded programs such as the Thornton law, the state tax cuts of the late 1990s would not have had such a negative impact on our budget.

Also, Marylanders with a gambling problem are already gambling, and we're already suffering the social costs - we're just not gaining the financial windfall.

If you don't believe that, just look at all of the Maryland license plates parked outside the West Virginia and Delaware racetracks.

Kevin Mercer

Hampstead

It's time to junk the gas-guzzlers

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