// For Question 4 //
The Maryland Dream Act is not only good for those relatively few who will benefit directly from it (perhaps fewer than 300 college students in any given year) but for everyone who lives in the state. That's because making tuition more affordable for illegal immigrants is a kind of economic stimulus -- reducing social service costs and raising tax revenue.
A dozen states have passed similar measures to provide in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants, and Maryland's version may be the strictest in the nation. It requires parents to be taxpayers and students to first attend community college. Yet the payoff is still substantial, as those better-educated young adults take on higher-paying jobs in the workforce.
The Dream Act doesn't set immigration policy. That's the job of Congress and the White House. But whether comprehensive immigration reform happens or not, the Dream Act gives the state the tools to better deal with the reality of today.
// Against Question 5 //
Toothpaste squeezed out of a tube follows as more sensible path than Maryland's revised congressional districts. Why so bizarre? Mostly to benefit incumbent Democrats and to expand their reach. (This time around, that means knocking off incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the 6th.)
Democrats justify such gerrymandering on the grounds that Republicans do the same in other states. But what about the broader interest in making sure Maryland voters aren't disenfranchised by these serpentine districts that snake across county lines and geographic boundaries? Better to force Gov. Martin O'Malley and lawmakers back to the drawing board.
// For Question 6 //
Maryland voters have an historic opportunity to stand up for equality and affirm state law allowing same-sex marriage. A generation ago, this would have seemed unimaginable. Today, it seems mostly overdue.
The law won't force gay marriage on anyone. It merely makes sure that same-sex couples in committed relationships have the same legal rights and privileges as their heterosexual counterparts in such matters as health care, real estate transactions and inheritance.
Opponents have used scare tactics (that it would change school curriculum or restrict free speech) that are so patently false as to be laughable under different circumstances. Maryland already recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriage; voters should have no problem with allowing the paperwork to be done closer to home.
// Against Question 7 //
What a shame that tens of millions of dollars have been spent trumpeting such a shameful rip-off of Maryland taxpayers -- a handout to casino owners offered the same year the General Assembly raised income taxes.
We think Maryland should authorize table games and perhaps even a casino in Prince George's County at some future date. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and Question 7 lowers taxes to existing and future casino owners in a manner that seems, at best, haphazardly decided upon. At worst, it's unconscionable, given the huge sum of money involved.
That one West Virginia casino might benefit from a delay is hardly sufficient reason to let a bad law stay on the books. Better to force lawmakers back to the drawing board and devise a proposal that is justified by something more substantial than sheer speculation, political intrigue and favoritism.