Don't squander surplus on reckless spending programsBudget...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Don't squander surplus on reckless spending programs

Budget analysts are now projecting that Maryland will experience a $619 million budget surplus for our current fiscal year ("State surplus seen as sizable," Oct. 13).

The state also will also have accrued $576 million in its rainy day reserve fund by the end of the fiscal year and expects its first payment of $188 million from the the national tobacco settlement by the end of the year.

Potential uses for this revenue will be a top priority when the Maryland General Assembly reconvenes in January.

My fear is that overzealous spending will prevail, resulting in new, long-term spending programs which will hurt future budgets.

The legislature must remember the lessons of the early 1990s, when a severe recession, coupled with excessive spending, turned a $400 million surplus into a major deficit.

I will work to use this surplus of taxpayer money for one-time projects such as continued school construction initiatives, road infrastructure improvement and tax relief.

I am pleased to see that one aspect of tax relief -- the elimination of Maryland's inheritance tax -- is gaining bipartisan support among legislative leaders.

This levy amounts to double taxation and its abolition would return approximately $70 million to our citizens.

Nancy Jacobs, Bel Air

The writer represents the 34th Legislative District in the Maryland Senate.

Give the surplus back to the taxpayers

When the local utility company apparently overcharged customers, state politicians quickly held open meetings to determine if the consumers were due a refund.

Now the state of Maryland has a projected surplus of more than $600 million because the state has overcharged the taxpayers.

Will the politicians refund the over-charge? Will they give us our money back?

Don't hold your breath.

Larry Johnston, Hereford

On a recent trip to Wisconsin, I was delighted to read about that state's legislature passing a bill refunding a $700 million surplus to its citizens -- and that Gov. Tommy Thompson would sign the bill as soon as it crossed his desk.

Contrast this with our governor salivating at the thought of spending Maryland's surplus on more government.

Will our legislature push for any return of our money?

Bill Rettberg, Baltimore

Lawsuits, legal fees impose unreasonable costs

Two articles in The Sun on Oct. 9 were of great importance: "Judge orders city, ex-pilot to settle" and "Angelos, state spar over tobacco payday."

The first case involves $13.5 million, the second approximately $1 billion. That's our money the lawyers are after.

Surely, lawyers deserve adequate compensation for their good work, but not inordinately high fees at public expense.

Timothy D. Baker, Baltimore

Criminal activity led to Hubbard shooting

Allegations against the police in the death of Larry Hubbard are truly shocking and deserve to be investigated by the U.S. Justice Department ("Seven groups probe killing," Oct. 16).

It should be stated, however, that accusation of racial motivation on the part of the white police officers could be made against the black witnesses as well.

And it shouldn't be forgotten that the entire incident occurred because the victim was fleeing from a stolen car. Mr. Hubbard should have known the risk involved in his actions.

We all hope and pray that the results of the investigation will be acceptable to all.

Thomas Nastoff, Baltimore

If Larry Hubbard had stuck to pushing petals, rather than drugs -- and other assorted criminal activities -- he might still be alive today.

Sophia Montgomery, Perry Hall

Larry Hubbard was no hero

When the Rev. Willie Ray compared Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to Larry Hubbard, I was astonished.

Dr. King and Malcolm X were catalysts for change who stood for unity, equality and justice. Mr. Hubbard was a convicted drug peddler.

Although Malcolm X spent time in prison, he proved his rehabilitation and was murdered for his evolving views on justice and equality.

Dr. King was in Memphis defending the rights of municipal employees when he was assassinated.

In stark contrast, Mr. Hubbard was being arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle when he was shot.

He was not pursuing the hopes Dr. King and Malcolm had for the African-American community. He was destroying them.

Ralph L. Sapia, Baltimore

Reviving Avenue Market will take time, money

The Sun's article about Avenue Market was misleading ("City funds keep lights on at market," Oct. 7).

The Avenue Market does have a four-year strategic business plan for self-sufficiency. We submitted it to the Department of Housing and Community Development in January.

The present $200,000 funding request came as a result of their review of that plan. It was scheduled for July, but, while it was delayed, the market's utility and security costs continued to accumulate.

I also consider it unfair that the article compared Avenue Market to other markets located in Fells Point, Federal Hill or downtown. Unfortunately, our community does not yet have the patrons, income or activity of those areas.

Whoever keeps comparing our market to those in such neighborhoods needs to take a tour of Baltimore.

I understand the city's financial position. However, the Avenue Market Corp. is attempting to revitalize a distressed, but historic, urban commercial area.

It is up to the community, the city and the state to decide if they want to support these efforts.

But it takes commitment, time and capital to revitalize our inner cities, just as it did to revitalize our Inner Harbor.

Ronald C. Harvey, Baltimore

The writer is general manager of the Avenue Market.

It's the hungry who should complain

The people who should be complaining about cooking smells in and around Camden Yards and the new football stadium are the ones a few blocks away who have no food ("Camden Yards is filled with offensive odors," letters, Oct. 12).

Clarinda Harriss, Towson

Farm addition is needless, excessive

Reading "Board OKs addition for historic farmhouse" (Oct. 13), I could find only one word for the board's actions and for what's happening at that historic site in the Western Run Valley: obscene.

The article said the owners "are building a 7,000-foot addition . . . onto the 5,000-square-foot house . . ."

We all share a threatened planet, a small sphere of finite resources, where thousands die from malnutrition.

For two people to occupy 5,000 square feet is obscene; 12,000 square feet is doubly obscene.

To heat 12,000 square feet is obscene. To air-condition that space is obscene.

To squander such an enormous quantity of building material, when millions are homeless, is obscene.

This architectural and social disaster is a prime example of the excesses that make it difficult for ecologically conscious citizens to remain optimistic about our planet's future.

Kirk S. Nevin, White Hall

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 10/19/99

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