Special session agenda should not include new taxes
To the editor:
In October, the Maryland General Assembly will meet in a special session to perform its constitutional duty to reapportion the state for congressional districts. The reapportionment is necessary so congressional districts reflect the new population data from the 2010 Census. During the special session, it is important the state legislature not waver from its task to approve a reapportionment plan. The Maryland legislature should not consider any new taxes or major policy initiatives.
During the past several legislative sessions, the General Assembly has put in place a conservative spending plan that recognizes the tough fiscal times the state faces by supporting the state's education and transportation system. The Maryland legislature needs to continue to hold the line on taxes so our working families will have enough funds necessary to maintain a household. Our businesses need to hold on to their money as they continue to recover from the long-term national recession.
Through these tough economic conditions, the state's sound fiscal policy continues to maintain a AAA bond rating — one of only eight states that has this rating in 2011. The AAA rating results in the state saving millions of dollars in reduced interest rates for capital projects like public school construction and road construction.
In addition, the Maryland legislature addressed the structural deficit and pension reform during the 2011 legislative session. The structural deficit was reduced by 46 percent and is on target to be completely eliminated within the next two years. Also, the Maryland legislature this year cut more than 650 vacant positions in state service which saved the state $27 million. Because of the State Rainy Day Fund (5 percent of the budget, or $642 million), the $123 million cash balance this year and the $400 million revenue increases, our state enjoys more than $1 billion in cash reserves.
The Maryland legislature has an obligation to meet for reapportionment but expanding the agenda to include new taxes and policy initiatives should not be considered.
Del. Galen Clagett, District 3A
Chairman, Public Safety and Administration Subcommittee
Clean, renewable energy plan should be supported
To the editor:
I am writing in response to recent letters to the editor by waste-to-energy opponents.
I attended one of the recent meetings on the regional waste-to-energy facility planned for Frederick County, and I have also paid close attention to the media coverage over the past few years. I couldn't disagree more with what the opponents have been saying.
I am confident that our county's long-term plan for waste reduction, aggressive recycling and state-of-the-art waste-to-energy technology is the most environmentally sound, dependable and lowest cost solution to our trash problem.
This project has been extensively studied and evaluated in an open forum for more than six years by two county boards. In my 39 years of living in Frederick County, I can't think of any other public project that has been reviewed as thoroughly — and been so strongly endorsed by the voters through our 2010 election.
Waste-to-energy facilities successfully serve hundreds of communities across Maryland, the United States and the world. Every time I go to an Orioles or a Ravens game, I am reminded of how Baltimore's waste-to-energy facility safely co-exists within a neighborhood adjacent to the city's major sports stadiums.
The recent meeting that I attended with other supporters of the project demonstrated to me how our county's facility will comply with stringent state and federal environmental requirements while producing more than 45 megawatts of renewable energy for our county, enough to power 45,000 homes. Additionally, instead of hauling our trash to out-of-state landfills at a time of volatile fuel prices, our county will save an estimated $400 million over 30 years, create hundreds of local jobs and generate $260 million in economic stimulus.
Moving forward at the McKinney Industrial Park also makes it possible for the facility to use treated effluent from the adjacent treatment plant as its process water, reducing the need for potable water. Sewage sludge may also be treated at this location, reducing land spreading and the contribution of nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay.
I appreciate the information being offered by project officials. I support clean, renewable energy in this county and I urge others to do the same. It's time to build it.