Maryland's budget takes the wise path of...


Maryland's budget takes the wise path of fiscal prudence

The Sun has spent the last four months demanding that state leaders spend reckless amounts of money, far exceeding our $940 million budget surplus, to fund an unsustainable list of ongoing expenditures.

But in a sudden spasm of fiscal concern, The Sun's editorial "From a budget surplus to a budget deficit?" (April 21) conveniently forgot the recent past.

The budgets proposed this year by the Glendening-Townsend administration were models of fiscal prudence and social responsibility that balanced the state's operating budget over a five-year period for the first time in recent memory.

Although The Sun urged us to go on a careless spending spree, state leaders carefully managed our budget surplus in a way that will build our future prosperity rather than risk financial ruin.

They wisely chose to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by investing much of the surplus in one-time construction expenditures and setting aside the largest portion of it, more than $400 million, in the state's rainy day fund.

By setting aside money and paying cash for schools, colleges and universities, and roads and bridges, the state will save millions of dollars in future interest payments and ensure it can meet its commitments, even if there is an unexpected economic downturn.

Had we taken the reckless path The Sun advised, the state would be committed to unsustainable programs that would face painful cuts if the economy weakened.

Editorial writers can propose massive spending programs without worrying about the realities of managing the taxpayers' budget. Fortunately the state's fiscal leaders ignored The Sun.

Frederick W. Puddester, Annapolis

The writer is the governor's secretary of budget and management.

Queen Anne's County GOP betrayed family values . . .

In their statements to reporters, the members of the elected Queen Anne's County Republican Central Committee suggest that I resigned because they intended to remove me from my elected position because of poor attendance ("Nursing mother leaves GOP panel," April 15).

The first of the three meetings I missed was because my mother had died (May 4, 1999). The second meeting (Jan. 13) I missed came just after I gave birth to my son, Thomas; the third meeting (April 5) I missed because I intended to resign.

While committee members desired to remove me for missing meetings, their implication that I resigned to avoid removal from the committee is false and their intentions were callous.

This committee does not uphold the Republican ideal of pro-family values or respect people's family responsibilities.

Its members are poor representatives of Queen Anne's County Republicans.

Amy Leaberry, Queenstown

I feel it is an absolute travesty that Amy Leaberry was forced to resign from the Queen Anne's County GOP central committee because the committee could not come to compromise on her behalf.

Let us not forget why the central committee was established: to promote and unify the Republican Party as well as promote family values.

I urge other members of the Republican Party to support Ms. Leaberry.

Donald Alcorn, Queenstown

. . . and more skirmishes over nursing are sure to come

The Sun's nursing mother article and the political skirmish between Amy Leaberry and her fellow Queen Anne's County GOP committee members foretells a much bigger battle to come.

Although we are in the very early stages of understanding the lifelong, positive effects of three-to-six months of exclusive breast-feeding, research already shows direct physiological relationships between increased bottle use and broad increases in illness, suffering and costs.

Fortunately, breast-feeding advocates are growing in numbers.

As parents learn about what impacts infant health, they will aim their anger in many directions. Primary targets will be those who promote placing bottles and pacifiers in infant mouths at birth.

Dr. David C. Page, Baltimore

Gun locks wouldn't stop National Zoo shooting

Just hours after the gang-related shootings at the National Zoo in Washington, Democratic presidential front-runner Al Gore called not for an end to gangs or drugs, but for more gun control.

But how would trigger locks and licensing have stopped this crime in a city that has banned handguns for decades?

This is another example of the failure of gun control and the way politicians who support it are out of touch with reality.

Calvin Chue, Baltimore

What's most appalling: The way Elian was taken . . .

As a Cuban-American Jew, I'm particularly appalled at Attorney General Janet Reno's tactics in removing Elian Gonzalez from his relatives' home.

The image of a young child removed at gunpoint from a loving family brought back memories of my parents' and grandparents' flight from persecution by the Nazis and their sympathizers in the 1930s and from Fidel Castro in 1960.

I, too, left Cuba as a boy just a little older than Elian is now, so in a small way I can identify with him. I would love to see Elian stay in this country, but I'm open-minded enough to appreciate the argument that he belongs with his father.

However, one thing I know for sure is that Ms. Reno's method for securing the change in custody was despicable.

Joseph Bondar, Baltimore

Whether you believe that Elian should be returned with his father to Cuba or given asylum, can we agree at least on this: The government's actions in removing him from his Miami home were extreme and should be resoundingly condemned?

Joseph Magri, Baltimore

The Justice Department apprehended 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez as if he were one of America's most wanted criminals. I was reminded of the FBI's raid on the Branch Davidians' compound in Waco, Texas.

As Yogi Berra once said, it was "deja vu all over again."

Paul M. Blitz, Essex

. . . the questioning of his father's rights . . .

It is frightening that a large number of our political leaders apparently believe a parent's custodial rights can be taken away because of that parent's ideology.

Even Sen. Joseph McCarthy wasn't that bold.

John Huppert, Baltimore

. . . or the posturing of party-line politicians?

Honorable people can disagree on Elian's rescue reunion with his father, but the congressmen who paraded before the television cameras after the rescue appeared less-than-candid in interpreting events along straight party lines.

Was there a Republican who did not pander to the Miami relatives and the Cuban-American community?

Was there a Democrat who did not support Janet Reno (other than Al Gore)?

Isn't there enough cynicism?

Couldn't we have seen congressional speakers who spoke their own minds, not transparent party-line agendas?

John Dziwulski, Owings Mills

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