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What to cut? Hagerstown residents offer ideas on trimming Md. budget deficit, raising revenue

February 23, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — James Arnold had no trouble suggesting where the Maryland state government should cut spending.

“The politicians should take a pay cut,” he said. “They don’t need that much money for what little they have been doing.”

Arnold, 40, was among Hagerstown residents Wednesday who gave their opinions on what Maryland lawmakers should target to reduce the state budget deficit. According to a published report Tuesday, Maryland senators are looking at ways to make more cuts to the state budget and to increase revenue.

Arnold added that Maryland lawmakers’ salaries should be based on what is in the state’s budget.

“If we don’t have the budget to supply what needs to be supplied, then that should include (politicans) too,” he said. “All of them perhaps should take maybe a 3 percent pay cut.”

Rodger An, 32, said that state cuts in spending should start with the senators.

“If there’s spending to be cut it should be from the senators,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to make decisions without money involved, and the first step is going to be to regulate the senators.”

An added that he thought lobbyists and corporations contribute to excessive spending by the Maryland state government.

“Wherever there’s money, there’s something going on underhand,” he said. “We need to take money out of all of politics.”

Robert Eves, 61, said spending should be cut for multiple projects.

“We spend money on bricks in the roadway and new recycle trash cans,” he said. “It’s the biggest waste of money I’ve seen.”

Eves said he thought the state could find ways to increase revenue other than raising taxes.

“They could increase speeding tickets and hire people to monitor the roadways,” he said.

Ron Criswell, 55, said he believes the state should stop spending money on public parks.

“It’s totally ridiculous to spend money on a park that we don’t need when we’re in the red,” he said. “You’ve got people that are not working. Put them back to work, then think about getting a park.”

Criswell said he is also opposed to the state’s proposals to increase revenue.

“I don’t think it’s right that they put in a gas tax with the economy as bad as it is,” he said. “They can find other ways to raise money, and the governor needs to help out the people.”

Mike Sheppard, 35, said he thinks the state spends too much money trying to lure in generic businesses.

His opinion, he said, is “The state should spend money on unique things.”

Sheppard said downtown Hagerstown was an example of how the state is ignoring things that could be appealing to outsiders.

“They can’t regulate where stores go, but they can invest in better things,” he said. “They should be more picky about what businesses they are giving funding to.”

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