The Baltimore Sun

Wrong time to spend millions to save land

Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to spend $72 million to acquire 9,200 acres along the Potomac River and on the Eastern Shore ("State plans to preserve 9,200 acres," Dec. 4). These acquisitions apparently would be funded by the state's land preservation fund and federal monies.

The state currently faces about a $200 million budget shortfall, which will likely escalate to close to $1 billion in the months ahead as a result of sharply declining revenues from sales taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes and the like. And the state is also looking at employee furloughs, layoffs and other cuts needed to balance the budget ("Taking a hit," Dec. 4).

These land purchases are a most unwise expenditure at this time. The money could be better used to help balance the budget and mitigate some of the draconian actions that will be required to ensure a balanced budget and maintain the state's AAA bond rating.

As I have said on many past occasions, the state does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. It is time for the governor and the legislature to take heed before we dig ourselves a much deeper hole.

Richard Hug, Baltimore

The writer is a former chairman of the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland and finance chairman for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

If we don't act soon, the land may be lost

In response to those who have complained about the state purchasing environmentally sensitive land as Gov. Martin O'Malley is proposing furloughs for workers, I think we all need to be more visionary ("Preserve income instead of open space," letters, Dec. 9).

We need to consider how decisions made now will affect our natural treasure, the Chesapeake Bay, 10, 20 and 100 years down the road, and how our quality of life may be affected by development for generations to come.

The state must act now to protect valuable land - land that otherwise is vulnerable to pollution-causing development - because otherwise there truly will be nothing left to protect.

Jennifer Kirschnick, Baltimore

Let those at the top share the sacrifice

Sacrifices are to be shared equally; those at the apex of the pyramid ought not to be spared ("Mayor defends pay increase," Dec. 11).

McNair Taylor, Baltimore

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