The Baltimore Sun

Expansion of credit offsets tax increases

Sun readers are getting a good overview of Gov. Martin O'Malley's emerging proposals for revenue enhancements thanks to the careful work of reporters Andrew A. Green and James Drew ("O'Malley details cut in income tax," Sept. 20). However, one key element of the governor's plan - an increase in the state's refundable earned income credit - deserves more attention.

This piece of the plan is critical to the governor's goal of tax fairness because increasing the state's earned income credit will help offset the impact of regressive proposed tax increases, such as the 1-cent increase in sales tax, which weighs disproportionately on low-income families.

The earned income credit has been supported over the past three decades by leaders of both major political parties as a way to reward work and increase the income of low-wage households struggling to make ends meet.

Mr. O'Malley promised to address the state's shortfall while keeping the needs of the most vulnerable in mind.

His proposal to expand the state's earned income credit shows that he's serious about that commitment.

Clinton Macsherry Kathleen Gardiner Melissa Broome Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the director of public policy for the Maryland Committee for Children, a member of the Maryland Alliance for the Poor and the senior policy advocate for the Job Opportunities Task Force.

Public about to pay for excess spending

Here we go again - even with billions of dollars coming into the state of Maryland's treasury each year, somehow this just isn't enough ("Public asks who'll pay," Sept. 23).

The politicians in Annapolis have managed to spend us into a significant deficit. So now many of them want to raise our taxes and the fees we pay for services such as titling our cars.

All those who voted for the current gang in Annapolis, open up your wallets: It is time to pay the piper.

Iver Mindel


O'Malley must learn to live within means

I swear to heaven, it was as predictable as clockwork: Elect a Democrat as governor and he'll get his hands in your pockets within a year. Gov. Martin O'Malley is no different, and in fact takes this dynamic to a new height ("Public asks who'll pay," Sept. 23).

Let me be clear: I do not support new taxes of any kind. And even though I'm a nonsmoker, I don't think it's fair to raise the tobacco tax.

Our other elected representatives need to educate Mr. O'Malley on fiscal governance - and teach him that he needs to live within the means of the state's current revenues.

Harry DeBusk


Tobacco tax hike is fairest proposal

As a fiscal conservative, I strongly oppose tax increases in general, particularly when the government has an opportunity to streamline inefficient and ineffective government bureaucracies before raising taxes - as is clearly the case in Maryland ("Rise in sales tax is sought," Sept. 21).

However, the one tax proposal from Gov. Martin O'Malley I have no problem with is the $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax, particularly if the money goes to fund health care and help reduce smoking.

Let's face it, smokers often rely on government services, particularly government-sponsored health care programs. Their habits also contribute to health and environmental problems that other citizens ultimately have to pay for.

The cigarette tax increase is simply the most fair tax, if not the only fair tax, in Mr. O'Malley's plans.

Sebastian Kurian


Keeler's successor can act to save kids

Thank you for the informative article about Cardinal William H. Keeler's future ("Change, challenges for Keeler," Sept. 23).

Although Cardinal Keeler did publish a list of accused pedophile priests in 2002, he also opposed bills that would have helped protect children from sexual predators and that would have made it easier for people who commit child abuse to be held accountable in civil court.

I hope his successor, Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, will see the wisdom of enacting tougher laws to protect children from this scourge.

Kurt Gladsky


The writer is the founder of the Greater Baltimore Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests.

Why must embassy hire private guards?

Here is a key aspect of the Blackwater USA story that everyone seems to have missed: If the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad feels insecure enough, even with the presence of so much of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in the Baghdad area, that its personnel must rely on a private security firm for their protection, doesn't that really say it all about the overall futility of the American "mission unaccomplished" in Iraq ("Iraqi premier seeks Blackwater's ouster," Sept. 20)? I believe that it does.

Here's a possible solution: Bring home our troops and leave just the embassy in Iraq and as many additional Blackwater security people as the company will send over. Then, for good measure, tell the current Iraqi government to go pound sand.

Blaine Taylor


Area roads unsafe for biking, walking

It would be great to get some relief from traffic congestion and be able to safely ride a bicycle for transportation and errands without fear of becoming roadkill ("No parking," editorial notebook, Sept. 15).

But don't try it in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Most of our roads are only suitable for cars and trucks.

Where bike paths exist, they are considered recreational rather than part of an integrated transportation system designed for safe and efficient use by motor vehicles, bicycles, motorized scooters, wheelchairs and pedestrians.

The ultimate irony is that for my wife and I to enjoy safe riding, we must load our bikes on a rack and drive to the North Central Railroad Trail.

We would prefer saving gas and the environment instead.

Stuart Hirsch


Baggy pants impose enough punishment

Tell me again why Baltimore needs a resolution against the wearing of baggy pants and exposed underwear ("Pants proposition," Sept. 19).

Certainly the wearers of this "fashion" are punished enough by their own appearance.

Doesn't the Constitution prevent being punished twice for the same offense?

Doug Ebbert

Bel Air

Those wearing suits create real mayhem

We believe more mayhem has been done to the city (and elsewhere) by men in suits and ties than by kids in low-slung pants ("Pants proposition," Sept. 19).

So we hope the City Council will prohibit this dangerous garb worn by establishment gangs.

David Berney Ivy Berney Baltimore

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