Despite prosperity, state's spending, debt are out...


Despite prosperity, state's spending, debt are out of control

The Sun has devoted many column inches to the $19.6 billion state budget Gov. Parris N. Glendening has proposed. But little effort has been made to put the current administration's spending trends into proper perspective.

Readers should be aware that since Mr. Glendening took office in 1995, the state's budget has increased from $13.5 billion to $19.6 billion.

This is an average yearly increase of 10.2 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation and nearly twice the rate of growth in personal income.

This growth in spending is irresponsible and illustrates the fact that government will always tend to spend given financial resources.

To make matters even worse, in these good times the governor's spending plan increases Maryland's debt by more than $600 million, but doesn't accelerate the state's 10 percent income tax cut.

The debt increase includes $150 million increase in general obligation debt in fiscal 2001 and a $450 million increase in transportation debt over the next three years.

Maryland already has the highest debt load of any of the region's six states and the 11th highest in the nation.

The state has some $4 billion in debt, half of which has been incurred on the Glendening/Townsend watch.

Less government, fiscal restraint, accountability and trustworthiness should be the order of the day.

I hope Marylanders will rebel in 2002, and bring some sense of fiscal sanity, good judgment and sound leadership back to Maryland.

Richard E. Hug


The writer is chairman and CEO of Hug Enterprises Inc.

Legislation can't make guns "smart" or safe

Our association agrees with part of The Sun's editorial "Safer guns can be a reality," Feb. 18).

Our member dealers want to be able to sell this technology, when it becomes available. We simply do not want to be forced to sell only this limited technology.

Personalized guns simply cannot be mandated. Reliable technology cannot be forced to market. It must be carefully developed, tested and patented. This cannot be accomplished by legislative mandate.

No company is even researching this technology for revolvers, only for large sized semi-automatic pistols.

And Colt Manufacturing has decided, after five years of research, that personalized guns are not viable and has dissolved the division it set up to develop that technology.

This personalized technology was initially designed for use by police, since 15-to-20 percent of murdered officers are killed with their own service firearms. But the governor has exempted police from his "smart gun" requirements.

If this bill is enacted, Maryland police officers will be targeted for assassination, because they would be the only ones with handguns that could be fired by anyone.

The editorial stated that safe use and storage are of paramount importance to reduce firearms accidents.

But the governor has not budgeted any money for firearms training and safety education, both of which are cost-effective means of reducing accidents.

Sanford Abrams


The writer is vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association, Inc.

It's nice to know that our illustrious governor, political pundits and editorialists are such fans of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars."

That's the only thing that could account for their belief that pseudo-science and outright fantasy could be translated into realistic ways to combat the problems of accidental gun deaths.

While it's true that technology is advancing, this does not mean that the fantasy of "smart-gun technology" is any closer to being realized.

Enforcement of existing gun laws and prosecution of criminally negligent gun owners would do a much better job of curbing accidental gun deaths than any fantasy of "smart-guns," which are years away from reality.

Laws passed to satisfy the high-minded sycophants of the current administration will only extend the problem and solve nothing.

C. G. Hicks Jr.


Prothero family touched by outpouring of support

Our family wants to thank all of those in this community who have been such a comfort to us since we lost my husband, Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero of the Baltimore County police.

You have given us your personal help and wonderful gifts -- sent flowers, food, and kind notes, honored us with your presence and given money for my children.

We cannot possibly express how deeply you have touched us.

We wish we could respond to each and every one of you individually, but the sheer numbers are overwhelming.

We will always remember and hold in our hearts the tributes to Bruce, the love, respect and gratitude shown for him and the love and compassion extended to his family.

We have felt this outpouring from the moment this tragedy became public knowledge, especially the day of his burial service when so many stood, in ones and twos and small groups, for mile after mile along our route, to bear witness to his sacrifice for us all,

This not only touched our hearts, but stands as a testament to the human spirit and its boundless capacity for love.

Ann Prothero


Ms. Prothero writes on behalf of her children and the Prothero and Warman families.

Turmoil in juvenile justice

This letter is in response to The Sun's recent article which reported that experts told a state task force the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) needs an overhaul and is "dangerously inept at treating and tracking the states delinquents" ("Juvenile justice overhaul is urged," Feb. 12).

After four years as the department's deputy secretary, I would like to tell the real story.

The department has had to deal with delinquents and at-risk youth who have, for the most part, been abandoned by their family, communities, schools and other service providers.

Yet the department has been underfunded, understaffed and unappreciated.

There is enough blame for everybody.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does not provide sufficient resources for delinquents who need mental health treatment.

Its Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administrationhas not increased juvenile justice's funding for substance abuse since 1991.

The governor, his chief of staff, and the secretary of Department Budget and Management have repeatedly reduced juvenile justice's budget requests, including funds for after-care, drug treatment and programs that provide treatment for youth with mental health problems.

The legislature has also annually reduced the budget the governor submitted, including funds for substance abuse.

In 1996 and 1997, under Secretary Stuart O. Simms, juvenile justice made great progress -- after a slow start because of a budget reduction of $3 million and 44 positions lost that first year.

But in November 1997, the governor appointed a secretary without management or juvenile expertise who stalled all progress.

It should also be noted that juvenile justice reports on the need for mental health and substance abuse treatment have been public knowledge for some time.

These matters, and the aftercare program, have been addressed as areas needing improvement in the last two three-year plans the department submitted to the governor and the legislature.

But for some time, however, juvenile justice has been advised not to cause conflict with other government departments on these matters.

Jack A. Nadol


The writer is former deputy secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

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