The Baltimore Sun

State needs revenue to meet public needs

Congratulations to Gov. Martin O'Malley for having the courage to put a comprehensive revenue package on the table to balance the state budget ("O'Malley mounts budget session blitz," Oct. 3).

From the perspective of the community-based agencies that serve the 92,000 children and adults who use Maryland's public mental health system, cutting our way out of the state's $1.7 billion deficit is simply not an option.

Despite strong funding support from former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and from Mr. O'Malley so far, public mental health services remain badly underfunded.

Increasing numbers of uninsured people with severe mental illnesses are being turned away from intensive rehabilitation programs, and thousands of others who should be in treatment are instead in jails or prisons or are homeless.

Work force shortages in our clinical, vocational and housing programs are at crisis levels.

And Maryland is not spending beyond its means.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our overall state and local spending per capita is well below the national average: Maryland ranks 31st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia overall, and last as a percentage of income.

Of course, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. So to The Sun's army of anti-tax letter writers, I say this: God forbid that you're poisoned by tainted food, or on a bridge when it collapses, or in a burning house without a community fire department.

God forbid your loved ones develop an illness or disability that only Medicaid will cover or that carries needs that only a publicly funded program will meet.

The only responsible way to balance the state budget is with new revenues.

Herbert S. Cromwell


The writer is executive director of the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

Cut state spending to boost efficiency

Gov. Martin O'Malley's solution to the structural deficit is twofold: Use slots to raise revenue and raise taxes to raise revenue ("O'Malley mounts budget session blitz," Oct. 3).

The governor plans to make the tax code more fair by raising the state income tax on higher-income earners.

However, Mr. O'Malley's plan will hurt the same lower-income earners he is trying to help by raising the sales tax, cigarette tax, gas tax and corporate income tax and using slots to increase government revenue. Sales, gas and cigarette taxes are all regressive taxes, and the costs of corporate income taxes are passed on to the poor through higher prices.

Slot machines harm low-income earners most because they have less disposable income to lose in slot machines.

The GOP's suggestion that the state limit increases in state spending to 3.5 percent is sound policy ("GOP slams budget plan," Oct. 2).

And here's even more sound policy: Cut state spending.

Government spending never provides the most efficient solutions to problems.

Why reward inefficiency with increasing funding?

Ryan McQuighan


It's long past time to pass slots plan

I think I speak for most everyone I know in Maryland when I ask: When will the state's politicians grow up?

I understand that legalizing slots is a big decision that has been debated for years. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. championed it when he was governor but could not get the version of a slots plan he wanted approved by the Democrats.

Now Gov. Martin O'Malley is proposing a slots plan. But the Republicans don't like the way he has presented it and the idea of approving it in a special session ("GOP shuns slots proposal," Oct. 4).

Republicans and Democrats need to understand that most Marylanders want slots.

We don't care how it gets done - just get it done.

Dean Scannell

Perry Hall

Myanmar is a better place to intervene

If President Bush and his administration are keen on attacking yet another country ("Iran accuses U.S. of 'psychological war,'" Oct. 4), I have a suggestion: Intervene in Burma (now called Myanmar) ("Myanmar troops round up citizens," Oct. 4).

Unlike the people in Iraq and, I suspect, Iran, I think the Burmese really would welcome us with flowers.

Joe Surkiewicz


Change vote to aid kids who need care

Recognizing that there are 8 million children without health insurance coverage in our country, the House and Senate passed a strong, bipartisan bill to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This legislation would ensure millions of children have access to the medical care they need.

Unfortunately, President Bush vetoed the renewal of this common-sense program, threatening the health care of millions of American kids ("Veto of SCHIP sets up battle of ideologies," Oct. 4).

The Senate is likely to muster the 67 votes it needs to override the veto. But more votes will be needed in the House to override the veto.

Every member of Maryland's congressional delegation voted for the SCHIP bill except Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

A change of his vote could be a matter of life or death for the children whose coverage depends on the passage of SCHIP.

Linda Black


Health care veto is hardly pro-life

President Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill should make it apparent that neither he nor the Republicans who voted against the bill are as "pro-life" as they claim ("Veto of SCHIP sets up battle of ideologies," Oct. 4).

In fact, vetoing or voting against a bill to ensure health insurance coverage for children is very much "anti-life."

People like Mr. Bush should be recognized for what they are - "pro-birth" rather than "pro-life."

After their self-righteous speeches against abortion are over, they suddenly lose respect for the sanctity of life.

These "pro-birthers" often ignore the needs of children and the poor. They support the death penalty. They continue to support an ill-planned war that has led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers and countless innocent civilians.

They conspire against the environment that sustains the life that they claim to hold sacred.

Life does not stop at birth, and neither should our respect for it.

Gary Tosadori


How can we protect integrity of the vote?

In the editorial "A better balance" (Oct. 1), The Sun is critical of the voter identification process required by Indiana law and now subject to review by the Supreme Court.

In The Sun's words, "There are other ways of fighting voter fraud without burdening the elderly, poor, homeless and other groups before they can exercise a basic right."

Perhaps The Sun's editorial writer can illuminate what those better ways might be?

Every vote cast by a noncitizen has the effect of diluting my vote. So how does The Sun propose to protect my rights as a legal citizen and voter?

Chuck Marks

Perry Hall

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