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letters to the editor - 10/13/02

October 14, 2002

Russo: Maryland in good financial shape



To the editor:


In the movie "The American President," the president says of his opponent "whatever your problem is, he's not interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: Making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. And that, ladies and gentleman, is how you win elections."

My opponent, Chris Shank, has regularly employed such inflammatory rhetoric in letters to the editor (5/19 and 6/2) and in open forums (CPWC) decrying the "structural deficit" in the state budget projections and blaming the "tax and spend" Democrats in Annapolis.

The facts are that the current Democratic administration has demonstrated outstanding fiscal responsibility. Maryland has enjoyed eight years of balanced budgets. We are one of only nine states to achieve a AAA bond rating (the highest possible).

The Rainy Day Reserve is fully funded with over $500 million. Our personal income tax was cut 10 percvent, the first cut in more than 30 years and, along with 30 other different tax cuts, returned over $2.6 billion to Maryland taxpayers.

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The recent recession has forced almost every state to address budget shortfalls. Ohio, a GOP state, is facing a $4 billion "structural deficit" compared to our almost $1 billion by fiscal year 2004. A structural deficit simply means that projected expenses exceed the anticipated revenues.

A bipartisan committee, the Commission on Maryland's Fiscal Structure, has been at work since early August to study the budget structure and process, examining ways to decrease expenses and raise additional revenues. They will also consider future funding needs for education, transportation, and health care. An interim report to the governor and legislature is due Dec. 15, 2002 and a final report by Sept. 1, 2003.

I support funding programs that will bring jobs for our workers, increase tax revenues, and restore economic vitality to this area. Locally, I support the airport extension (noting that Bedford, PA recently got funding for a 900-foot extension to their runway and putting us at a competitive disadvantage), the Bowman truck stop, and keeping the University System of Maryland campus in downtown Hagerstown.

While I generally support slot machines at racetracks, I would agree withSpeaker of the House Cas Taylor's position that the issue should be decided by all the voters by referendum, rather than by legislators in Annapolis.

I am generally opposed to unfunded state mandates where the state avoids expenses by passing them along to county, local, and school board budgets.

As with any business, the belt can and should be tightened, especially in tough times, and spending can and will be reduced by examining funded programs for effectiveness and productivity.

But the real issue locally isn't government spending, it's that the state isn't spending a proportionate share of its budget in Washington County.

Incidently, that $6 million of which Shank is so proud was a windfall due to the governor's increased budget and commitment to farmland preservation, and required little, if any, effort on the part of the delegation. Give credit where credit is due.

A fiscally responsible businessman and health care professional, I have 22 years of business ownership experience. With an extensive educational background in both business and law, and substantial life experience, I am well acquainted with business, budgets, and legislation.

We need serious people to solve serious problems, not rabble-rousing rhetoric.

David Russo

Candidate

House of Delegates, District 2B




Time for a scrub



To the editor:


I've been sitting on this for almost two months, but it's now time to act. I enclose an editorial that I hope will interest you.

As a former resident of the Fredericksburg, Va., area and Stafford County in particular, this editorial caught my eye when I was visiting my younger son in early August. Fredericksburg and Hagerstown have quite a bit in common in terms of size, Civil War connections, actual and potential bedroom communities for commuters to Washington, D.C., because of proximity to at least one major interstate highway, etc.

I've also noticed a tremendous increase in trash and litter on all the roads in Washington County in recent weeks. How long are we going to put up with this unsightly disgrace? As the Free Lance Star editorial points out, this situation "is not conducive to economic development." If it disgusts the eye of our own residents, imagine the effect on visitors and potential residents and businesses!

Why can't Hagerstown, in fact all of Washington County, join Fredricksburg on Make-A-Difference Day, Oct. 26, Saturday morning, 8 a.m. - noon, and clean up not just one major highway but all our roads in the city and county? Why limit the effort to I-70 and I-81 (which are too dangerous for ordinary citizens to tackle anyway)?

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