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Was session special?

December 02, 2007

We asked members of The Herald-Mail's Opinion Club the following question: Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law a $1.3 billion tax package and a measure that will put slot machines to a statewide vote. Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, posed the question, "Will people recognize it as hard choices that had to be made or as government run amok?" What's your answer?

(The Herald-Mail Opinion club responds to random questions on random issues. If you would like to be included in the Opinion Club mailing list, e-mail opinionclub@herald-mail.com and type "join" in the subject box.)

My understanding was that Gov. Martin O'Malley's tax increases were targeted to hit the "rich." But those of us on fixed incomes still have to pay more in sales tax on our purchases and pay more to register our cars. The rich couldn't care less about that when they buy and register their $50,000 Mercedes. Higher corporate taxes will make any new company think twice before locating in Maryland and might actually cause some to leave.

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Carlo Belella
Hagerstown




The Maryland state government is bloated with excess like most governments. Instead of raising taxes and bleeding the populace with more games designed for the "house" to win, why don't they pare down the legislative assembly to only a few representatives from each of the 23 counties? Why not 69 representatives, rather than the 188 legislators now feeding from the taxpayer trough?

Charlie Siford
York, Pa.




In typical government fashion, our lawmakers have taken the easy way out to resolve financial problems that they have brought on themselves. Instead of taking a hard look at why we have budgetary lapses, our government has raised taxes so we can resolve their incompetence. Slot machines will be mainly used by the lower and middle classes, so once again those classes will bear the burden.

Instead of Band Aids, we need to have a fiduciary operation and cure. We have only ourselves to blame because we elected them, but I believe Lee Iococa said it best: "Where have all the leaders gone?"

Brian Gertz
Hagerstown




Hypocritical and bureaucratic government run amok, to be exact!

Jonathan Burrs
Hagerstown




Regarding slot machines in Maryland: At least this proposal calls for voting by citizens. Yet do the citizens in the communities where slots will be authorized get a vote on the presence or absence of such machines in their region?

I live in West Virginia. I am aware of many of the values and pitfalls of gambling. I still think the worst offense is what we speak of as the "gray machines" now limited to five in a small building that tries to pose as a pseudo nightclub/restaurant/bar. These are out in neighborhoods of homes. I always detested these machines in mom and pop stores, and still dislike them in our living areas.

Maryland seems to be avoiding these. Good. But I still believe Maryland residents should have a vote on location of slot machines within cities and/or counties as well as permitted within the state. Maryland seems to be acting very neighborly to West Virginia to preclude installing slot machines in Frederick city and county.

I wonder how long that gentlemanly practice will continue?

David L. Woods
Hedgesville, W.Va.




I asked a couple of delegates what brought us to the fiscal mess we are in. The answer: The Ehrlich administration robbed the trust funds, e.g., for highways, etc., to pay for ongoing expenses. So they just hid the deficit they created, and tried to pass it onto the next administration. Reminds me of the Bush administration, whose addition to our terrible multitrillion national debt is more then the total accumulated debt of our nation since it's founding. You be the judge.

Stephen Kay
Severna Park, Md.




I have argued for years that the State of Maryland should not try to legislate morality. This is the crux of the matter. It makes no sense to pretend we are an island of virtue in a sea of corruption. All of the states surrounding us have slots. Our people will go there to spend their gambling money if they can't do it here. Let's keep the money here and use it for good purposes.

I say, let slots be available for any business or organization in Maryland that wants them. Regulate the payouts from slots, not their availablity.

Donald R. Currier
Smithsburg




People who are for slot machines will drive any distance to play them, so debating the location most likely will not change either side of the pros and cons of what many consider the moral issues regarding this referendum of these now computerized "one armed bandits." What is curious to me, though, is why we need one more gimmick to balance our state or national budget. It doesn't seem to matter how much revenue arrives, we have become a people and a nation out of control with debt.

Kate Buxbaum-Prado
Hagerstown




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