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News Opinion Readers Respond

Starting school after Labor Day has serious benefits

As I read The Sun's editorial, "One week and counting" (Aug. 19), I was disappointed with how disconnected it seemed with the conversations I've had with countless families and small business owners about a post-Labor Day start to the public school calendar.

While the editorial mocked a serious policy discussion that would simultaneously help families, small businesses and the Maryland economy, a poll on The Sun's own website found that 88 percent of readers support a post-Labor Day start to the public school calendar. While $74.3 million may, in fact, comprise a small fraction of the state's overall gross domestic product, tens of millions of dollars would be anything but "barely discernible" on the books of the many family-owned businesses I've visited — or the household budgets of their 320,000 employees, particularly amid a sluggish economic recovery.

The $3.7 million in added wages would hardly be "minuscule" to Maryland's teachers who rely on supplemental income to support their families in a state workforce that's among the nation's worst in private sector wage growth. And at a time when the state has repeatedly dug into the pockets of our citizens for tax and fee increases, $7.7 million more in tax revenue without increasing rates would go a long way.

Just as we agree that we should ask ourselves whether we're educating our children to the highest possible standard, I hope we can also agree that we owe it to our citizens to similarly ask if we've done all we can to avoid increasing their taxes to pursue even the most worthwhile public projects. But this isn't just about the economic growth, tax revenue or supplemental wages it would generate; it's about the fleeting time families have to spend together and the lifelong memories and lessons learned during the summer that can't necessarily be taught in a classroom or textbook.

I admit, it's a "guilty pleasure" to fight every day for the best interests of Maryland's taxpayers and to carry on the legacy of my legendary predecessors, Louis L. Goldstein and William Donald Schaefer, whose memories you curiously chose to diminish. So, in their spirit of sensible public policy, and for the sake of families, small businesses and our state's economy, I'm proud to join the overwhelming majority of Marylanders in making summer mean summer once again.

Peter Franchot, Annapolis

The writer is Comptroller of Maryland.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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