State Funding of Towson State
Editor: I would like to correct erroneous statements and misleading inferences regarding state funding for Towson State University. The assertions on this page Nov. 14 were contained in a letter attributed to Edwin Hirschmann, president of the American Association of University Professors/Faculty Association at Towson State University.
The letter charged that Gov. William Donald Schaefer "on Sept. 4 ordered an immediate cutback of 6 percent" of the TSU appropriation. This was not the case.
The specific general fund budget reduction was directed at TSU by the University of Maryland System acting in response to the governor's request that each state agency prepare cost containment plans to achieve general fund reduction targets.
Larger cuts were assigned to agencies whose budgets included the larger amounts of general fund dollars. Assigned reductions ranged from 1 percent to 6 percent. The UMS target was 6 percent. The allocation and breakdown of cuts were left to the discretion of each agency head.
The UMS, exercising the fiscal autonomy it cherishes, chose to have each institution in the system reduce its spending by 6 percent rather than by a proportional reduction based on the size of the general fund budget for each of its colleges and universities. Ever mindful of UMS financial independence, the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning accepted the system's reduction plan and sent it to the governor for his review.
The 6 percent target for UMS can be traced to the fact that the system's budget contains 21.5 percent of the state's non-mandated, non-entitlement general fund appropriation.
Mr. Hirschmann's letter contends the budget cuts undermine academic progress being made at TSU, concluding that "funding is suddenly yanked from under our feet." He asks if new progress is to "come to a screeching halt."
I am sure Hoke L. Smith, president of TSU, will not allow budget cuts to cripple his campus. He obviously gave a lot of thought to the future of his school in preparing the 6 percent reduction ordered by UMS. Dr. Smith is a dedicated educator who, early on, was perceptive enough to base his economies on future cutbacks.
Budget trimming is a distasteful task. One of this magnitude affects all levels of Maryland life, and agency discretion is limited as to where to cut. For that very reason, the decisions on where and how to cut were left to the cabinet secretaries and agency heads who deal with the day-to-day operations of their programs.
To have done otherwise would have been slashing blindly.
Charles L. Benton.
The writer is state secretary of budget and fiscal planning.
A Church Saved
Editor: Your article of Nov. 23 concerning the Mount Olive Baptist Church at York and Bosley roads in Towson not only warmed my heart, but it made my day.
I rejoice with them in their victory after a 50-year battle of holding on to their precious land.
In reading the beautifully written article by S.M. Khalid, it is
obvious that this congregation's top priorities are faith and family.
They could have sold their land for an enormous amount but chose to hold onto it ultimately to rebuild their church. So often today we see such greed and disregard for God and for family.
I pray the Lord will richly bless Mount Olive Baptist Church always.
Jean H. White.
The Linowes Fix
Editor: The Linowes Commission did just what thinking Marylanders thought it would. It searched for new veins to siphon off additional financial blood from the Maryland taxpayers instead of proposing a fairer revenue-neutral system. Maryland already is one of the highest-taxed states in the nation and its taxpayers have tax-scarred financial veins, like those of a hardened junky.
Instead of a recommended increase in taxes disguised by a fast tax shuffle deal, what Maryland badly needs is an independent, hard-nosed commission to seek out ways to reduce state and local tax needs.
At all levels, Maryland government is rife with programs, services, perquisites, inflated wages and benefits, padded payrolls, boondoggles, junkets, expense accounts, travel allowances, sweetheart deals, cronyism and allegiance to special interests which are unnecessary and cost the taxpayers dearly.
Do we really want a socialistic Maryland with entrenched wealth transfers and the enthroning of politicians through vote-buying with tax dollars?
Now we know why the Linowes Commission report was delayed until after the recent election. In the hearings held by the commission very few private citizens were heard. The vast majority of the 147 people who testified were ones whose personal and/or organizational interests were in receiving more tax dollars. Giving the voters a voice in how they are taxed is too dangerous to political ambitions.
'George W. Bauernschmidt, Jr.
Editor: After my recent parent/teacher conference, it came as no surprise to me when Maryland's "report card" results were announced. I have questioned "acceptable" grades that have been given on certain assignments and report cards and asked how the passing grade could possibly be justified. At this point, I am told that my child is performing to their (the school's) expectations and my standards are too high. Obviously our state's standards are too low.
Beverly J. Rochford.
Editor: Franklin Mason's poignant piece on Baltimore's streetcars (Opinion * Commentary) mirrors, I'm sure, the recollections and emotions of countless older Baltimoreans.
To a generation raised with buses, auto gridlock and endless expressways, it is difficult to imagine that Baltimore was once graced with one of the largest streetcar systems in the country, complete with over 400 miles of track, 35 routes and 1,300 cars at its peak.
Until the early 1950s, in fact, the cars remained the dominant form of mass transit, until diesel buses and the private automobile began to make irrevocable inroads.
Or so it was thought. Now, in 1990, the light rail vehicle is heralded as an idea whose time has come.
Actually, the idea arrived a century ago -- in the form of the first electric cars -- and never really has left. We just became distracted.
Andrew S. Blumberg.