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Letters to the editor for 6/2

June 02, 2002

Maryland Democrats' financial mistakes

Maryland taxpayers guard your wallets. The Glendening-Townsend administration and the Democrats in the General Assembly have recently rammed through a $22 billion budget that will result in a deficit of $2.2 billion. The General Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget. This year's budget failed miserably to achieve this balance, something that will soon come back to haunt state taxpayers. I could not in good conscience support such a budget and voted no.

According to the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services, over the next eight years, there will be a $2.2 billion gap between state revenues and state expenses.

If the State of Maryland was like nearly every business or family I know, the General Assembly would have paid attention to this disturbing situation and have begun to cut back on expenses.

If the State of Maryland was like nearly every business or family I know, the General Assembly would have paid attention to this disturbing situation and have begun to cut back on expenses.


Not Maryland! Instead, the Democrats passed House Bill 1 which will establish a "commission" to examine new ways to increase state revenues.

In other words, they are running out of money to spend and are looking for new ways to raise your taxes!

Next year, once the gubernatorial election is over, this commission will recommend all sorts of new ways to gouge Maryland taxpayers. This was last done by the Linowes Commission in December of 1990 which recommended raising more than $800 million in new taxes.

The Linowes Commission findings proposed increasing the personal income tax, establishing a personal property tax, and broadening the sales taxes to services. The findings were rejected the last time and should not even be considered during these uncertain financial times.

As a Deputy Minority Whip in the Republican Caucus, I was proud to co-sponsor an alternative to this tax-and-spend liberal approach to managing the state's finances. Our caucus proposed to create the Maryland Commission on Efficiency in Government. This bill would require a study of ways to use state tax revenues more efficiently.

The commission would examine every realm of government in order to identify those areas which need improvement. State employees would be asked for their ideas on cutting waste and improving services; they know better than anyone how to efficiently run their departments.

We just need to listen to them instead of the bureaucrats and bean-counters protecting their turf in Annapolis. Public hearings would be held to ask citizens how to improve the responsiveness of state government as well as which agencies need to be managed more efficiently. We have a duty to the state taxpayers to ensure that their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible and not wasted.

Is there waste and inefficiency in state government? Absolutely! Does it really take seven different state agencies to administer the Governor's $200 million Smart Growth program?

In the closing days of this last session, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene mysteriously "found" over $40 million to close their agency's mental health deficit. These were funds that should have been serving the neediest citizens in this state, instead they were "lost" in some bureaucratic purgatory in Annapolis.

No doubt, there are innumerable other ways to save money. Families do this all the time, and we need to demand that government bureaucracies do the same. With our current economic downturn, increasing income and sales taxes would be devastating to hard working families and businesses.

The Democrats' tired old answer to the budget crisis is to form a commission to raise taxes so they can keep spending more of your money. The Republicans' solution is to increase efficiency, decrease cost, and improve services for all Marylanders.

Christopher B. Shank is a Republican delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and is a candidate for delegate District 2B.

Governor appeases trial lawyers with veto

To the editor:

Maryland Governor Parris Glendening has failed the citizens of Maryland for the second straight year. With his veto of legislation that would increase the maximum amount for which a person can sue in small claims courts, Maryland's small claims courts will remain accessible only to those seeking restitution for near-trivial amounts.

Both consumers and businesses often are faced with disputes over amounts as high as $10,000 or $20,000. Such disputes are of a great enough magnitude that they cannot be simply written off by the party who is owed the money. However, these amounts are not high enough to merit hiring an attorney, since the attorney's fee would eat up most or all of any money awarded by the court. A logical venue for such cases is small claims court.

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