State's tax burden already high enough
The first sentence in the editorial "More than spinning wheels" (Sept. 26) states, "When the business community complains that it's not getting taxed enough, attention must be paid."
The evidence the editorial cites for this is that a couple of business groups, including the Greater Baltimore Committee, headed by Donald C. Fry, are pushing to increase the gas tax by 10 cents or more on everybody, not just businesses.
A little research shows that Mr. Fry was on Gov. Martin O'Malley's transition team, and that on Sept. 5, Mr. O'Malley appointed Mr. Fry to serve on the Maryland Port Commission until 2010.
So in other words, a group headed by a man with close ties to Mr. O'Malley is supporting Mr. O'Malley's desire to raise our taxes. And this is considered worthy of our attention?
The governor and some members of the General Assembly simply do not get the message: Our taxes are high enough.
I hear Maryland is a wealthy state. But after I've had five years with no pay raises or meager raises, I wonder where the wealth truly lies. Perhaps with people such as Mr. Fry?
The state government needs to stop creating programs with no funding sources in place. It needs to re-examine what programs it is funding.
It needs to show fiscal restraint and responsibility instead of forcing taxpayers to bear the costs of its overspending.
What truly worries me is that this extra money state officials want to collect will just get squandered on programs that don't work, on pork projects that benefit few people or on perks for politicians.
D. Keith Henderson
Where's the effort to trim spending?
Those of us who have more than one credit card understand the difficulty of dealing with a deficit ("O'Malley betting on slots," Sept. 26).
The solutions are usually painful and require a lot of personal sacrifice. Over the years, I have learned that the only legal ways to address my deficit are to find ways to increase my income or to cut expenses.
I have learned over years of trying to manage my finances that both debt reduction strategies have to be employed to have a real impact.
It is clear from the governor's tax plans that the state intends to generate additional revenues through a lot of new taxes and fee increases. What I failed to glean from his proposals are what steps will be taken to reduce the budget.
Perhaps I have overlooked the spending-reduction aspect of Mr. O'Malley's proposal.
Or perhaps the state's bureaucracy is so efficient that no debt reduction is possible?
Decriminalize drugs and tax them, too
If Gov. Martin O'Malley thinks he can generate revenue by taxing poor, addicted cigarette smokers ("Doubled tobacco tax goal of O'Malley," Sept. 27), think how much more he could generate by decriminalizing drugs and taxing those customers.
Cigarette tax hike saves lives, billions
Paying for an expansion of children's health insurance with an increase in the federal cigarette tax would be unfair to low-income smokers, according to some critics of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, including President Bush ("House OKs expanded child health program," Sept. 26). But those critics don't mention the substantial benefits that the 61-cent-a-pack boost in the tax would bring.
An analysis by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a tobacco-control advocacy group, concludes that the higher levy would keep 1.9 million underage Americans from starting to smoke, help nearly 1.2 million adult smokers to quit, prevent nearly 900,000 deaths caused by smoking and produce $43.9 billion in long-term savings in health care costs.
And all of this would be in addition to the better health millions of children would enjoy because of the access to health insurance that SCHIP would provide.
The writer is a former board member of the Smoke Free Maryland Coalition.
An inconceivable war funding request
One hundred ninety billion dollars is what the Pentagon is asking Congress for in order to fund the war in Iraq for another year ("Bush, Congress face new war fund clash," Sept. 27).
One hundred ninety billion dollars. That's an incomprehensible figure to U.S. citizens living paycheck to paycheck.
It's an incomprehensible figure to anyone working full time and earning the minimum wage. It's an incomprehensible figure to those who are still displaced because they lost their homes when the levees broke in New Orleans.
It's an incomprehensible figure to those of us living without health insurance or retirement benefits or the assurance that our job will not be outsourced to another country. It's an incomprehensible figure to the soldiers coming back from Iraq and their families who now face lives irrevocably damaged.
One hundred ninety billion dollars to fund a misguided war that is unpopular the world around.
One hundred ninety billion dollars? How much is that anyway?
Focus on toll taken by violence at home
It is good to see that the student bodies at Coppin State and Morgan State universities can come together for a common cause ("Rallies on Baltimore campuses demand justice for 6 black students in La.," Sept. 21).
But I think their energies would be better directed not to the Jena 6 but to keeping the Baltimore 234 - the number of people murdered in the city this year, as of this writing - from becoming the Baltimore 300.
Can O'Malley muster courage to alter law?
I wish Gov. Martin O'Malley were more like San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders ("Same-sex marriage: Issue too hot to be taken on faith," Sept. 23).
Mr. Sanders recently pushed aside politics and took the unpopular position of backing a California lawsuit that seeks to overturn that state's gay marriage ban.
He publicly declared his position in clear terms and then explained his reasoning in detail.
In contrast, after the Maryland Court of Appeals blocked marital equality in Maryland, Mr. O'Malley failed to offer any leadership or vision.
After the ruling, on a day when countless citizens felt slapped in the face and subjected to state-sanctioned discrimination, Mr. O'Malley spoke up only to pander to both sides of the issue with a few vague comments that had no clear meaning. He showed no sign of the kind of compassion that Mr. Sanders expressed.
There's no changing Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.'s circular and senseless reasoning in support of continuing discrimination against gays. But we can change the state's law.
I implore Mr. O'Malley to denounce the court decision and champion gay marriage in Maryland.
That would put him on the right side of history and put me one step closer to equality.