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Md. Senate candidates talk about issues

September 04, 2010
  • Don DeArmon
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Editor's note: The Herald-Mail asked candidates in some contested races in the Sept. 14 primary election to respond to eight questions. Candidates who are unopposed in the primary were not asked to respond to the questions.

Following are the first four responses of candidates for the Maryland Senate. Their responses to the final four questions will be in Monday's Herald-Mail.

MARYLAND SENATE

DISTRICT 1

No Republican or Democratic primary race. One GOP candidate, no Democratic candidates.

George C. Edwards, 62

Incumbent

23 N. Pennsylvania Ave,

Grantsville, Md.

Republican

MARYLAND SENATE

DISTRICT 2

Two Republican candidates. No Democratic primary race.

Question: What do you see as the top two issues in your race and what should the state do to address those issues?

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Donald F. Munson, 72

Incumbent

117 W. Magnolia Ave.,

Hagerstown

Republican

The top two issues in this election are jobs and taxes. Job creation is addressed in the answer to question 4. Taxes are too high. All tax paying citizens are over burdened. Government needs to do much more to get the economy rolling. Bringing some certainty and stability under which a business climate can thrive would help greatly. Government can help accomplish this through tax cuts for businesses and individuals. I have signed The State Taxpayers Protection Pledge and will not vote for any new or increased taxes.

Christopher B. Shank, 38

324 Chartridge Drive,

Hagerstown

Republican

Jobs and Spending -- we must reduce Maryland's tax burden and bring jobs back to Maryland. We cannot do this without controlling state spending. Government needs to live within its means and not continue to demand more from the taxpayer's wallets. Since the historic tax increases of 07/08, Maryland's business climate ranking has dropped to 45th and unemployment in Washington County has nearly doubled. Even with higher taxes, deficits continue. Clearly, more taxes are not the answer, less spending is. If we reduce spending and roll back these taxes, businesses will recover and jobs will return.

Question: How should the state close its budget gap?

Munson: The state's budget gap was not created in one year and it will not end in one year. It will probably take 5 to 7 years to close it. Working in a nonpartisan way, the General Assembly must come up with a plan to close the gap and stick to the plan until the gap is gone. Slots revenues will help and so will the economy as it picks up. The state needs to take a leading roll in creating new jobs by aggressively pursuing new businesses to locate in Maryland and assisting existing businesses in expansion.

Shank: Maryland's budget deficit needs to be dealt with once and for all and not be perpetuated by over-spending. In the 2010 Session I, along with my Republican colleagues, proposed a plan that would reduce state spending by curbing entitlements and waste, eliminate the budget deficits permanently, and allow for a repeal of the 07/08 tax increases. We proposed the elimination of nearly $830 million over the next fiscal year. This package included many tough choices, not unlike the choices Maryland's families face when they decide how to spend their money in tight financial times.

Question: Maryland is facing a shortfall in its pension system. What should the state do?

Munson: We must begin by reforming the funding mechanism. The current mechanism, known as the "Corridor Method," is not adequate and must slowly, but with certainty, be eliminated. The Governor must put any available excess funds into the system to help eliminate the shortfall. All previous commitments to pensioners must be honored. Reasonable and responsible changes to benefits must be designed for state workers who are hired after a certain date in the future. These benefits must be designed so that good and effective people will still want to work for the State of Maryland.

Shank: Maryland's pensions are a promise to hard working state employees that must be kept. We should change the legislative pension system of State Legislators -- one that would put them in the same system (with) the majority of state employees instead of the richer program they are currently in. There is no reason why a legislator who serves 8 years should receive a more generous pension than an employee who has served the state for 30 years.

Question: What should the state's role be in creating local jobs?

Munson: The Governor and General Assembly must work together to develop a more business friendly climate in Maryland. Too often in the past state and local governments and business have been adversaries. This must end. Reducing business taxes, eliminating or decreasing red tape, pursuing new businesses and providing opportunities for meaningful job training all need to be part of the plan/legislation.

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