Letters to the Editor - Jan. 16

January 16, 2012

Callaham’s column was liberal elitism at its best

To the editor:

Art Callaham’s Jan. 1 column, “Predictions for 2012,” states he will publish a score card on his predictions for 2012. The readers of The Herald-Mail don’t need to wait until 2013 to realize that the score for this column is a big zero. While Callaham certainly has the right to express his opinions, the lack of facts and policy to support his positions, paired with his overheated rhetoric, is liberal elitism at its best.

He disparages “fringe” groups that are opposed to the DREAM Act. Are the 8,241 Washington County citizens who signed the petition to bring it to the ballot on the fringe? Are the volunteers and over 130,000 signatories from across the state, over one-third of whom were Democrats, right-wing fanatics? We hardly think so.

These citizens simply recognize the DREAM Act for what it is, a way to make Maryland one of the most attractive sanctuary states in the country. Over $1.7 billion per year is already spent on those not lawfully present in Maryland, with a significant appropriation to public education costs. By siding with the truly fringe Casa de Maryland, supporters of the DREAM Act are transferring Maryland students’ seats and tuition subsidies to those who are not here legally in the United States. At a time when higher education is already facing financial challenges and tuition across the country is on the rise, it is irresponsible to offer rewards to illegal immigrants rather than focusing on the middle-class citizens who have paid taxes to fund higher education in our state.

Callaham also argues that the Washington County Delegation’s “rigid and unswerving allegiance” to not raising taxes is somehow connected to our crumbling transportation infrastructure. In reality, tax increases like the proposed 15-cent gas tax hurt the rural commuters of our county disproportionately more than in other counties. The transportation trust fund has been consistently raided to subsidize deficits to Maryland’s budget. Combined with the cost of subsidizing Washington, D.C., and Baltimore’s mass transit systems, the Transportation Trust Fund is indeed stressed, but it has nothing to do with a lack of revenues coming in from the gas tax. On the contrary, this situation is yet another excuse for Gov. O’Malley to take money out of the pockets of middle-class Marylanders.

Callaham seems to imply that we should sell out our constituents and vote for the gas tax to get a road project in Washington County. So which is it, have we run out of revenue or do we need a pork project to find an excuse for the gas tax? Washington County citizens already pay more than their fair share of transportation costs. Based on past spending patterns, a considerable portion of any new gas tax revenue will be earmarked toward mass transit, not roads. Maryland taxpayers already pay for more than 71 percent of the operating costs for mass transit. How exactly would Washington County citizens paying 38.5 cents per gallon benefit from over $4 billion in new light rail lines in Baltimore and Washington? We pay 23.5 cents per gallon in gas taxes now. Whether we vote for such a measure or do not, our citizens deserve road projects proportionate to what they pay in taxes.

One need only drive north or south along Interstate 81 to see the economic growth flourishing in our neighboring states. Raising the gas tax, or any other tax for that matter, will have a devastating effect on Maryland’s business competitiveness. As a result of tax increases such as the gas tax and others that have been proposed, Maryland will continue to lose jobs and revenue to Virginia and Pennsylvania because of our unfriendly business climate and increasing costs. By increasing the gas tax an additional 15 cents, our state will have one of the highest gas-tax rates in the nation and will increase the amount the average Maryland household spends on gasoline to $4,333 per year or 8.7 percent of median income.

Cynical political deals such as last session’s alcohol tax, which only benefited the urban jurisdictions that voted for it, only reinforce the conclusion that so many in Washington County have reached — political blackmail and stifling dissent is not the proper function of our government and civic discourse. If this unseemly trend continues with the gas tax, our constituents will no doubt take notice and have their ultimate say at the ballot box.

Sen. Christopher B. Shank, District 2
Del. Neil Parrott, District 2B

Some letters are better suited for other sections

To the editor:

I am writing to you because it seems that just about anything can be published in The Herald-Mail if you send something in to the editor. It seems that most of the time, the letters should definitely be printed in the Mail Call section.

There are many examples, but to save space in the paper for others, I will digress. But, in the future, I think that some of the submissions should be read more thoroughly and sent to the correct section of the paper.

Jimmie Presgraves

County should look into criminal alien program

To the editor:

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to get criminal aliens off the streets of Frederick County. It has been effective. According to Frederick County’s website, more than 600 criminal aliens have been apprehended and removed as a threat to Frederick Countians. Why don’t we do that?

The program, called 287g, partners local law enforcement agencies and ICE, which deports the criminal aliens. I would like to ask the Washington County Commissioners and Sheriff Mullendore to look into this program.

After all, when word gets out that Frederick County is not a good place to do business, the criminal aliens will surely cross the mountain to greener pastures, that being Washington County.

Greg Morris

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