Candidates for state Senate and House of Delegates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Industry: What plans do you have to attract new industry to the state and to help those now unemployed?
Reaganomics: What parts of the Reagan economic program do you support or oppose?
Amend: Should the state amend its constitution to limit taxes or spending?
Crime: What proposals would you support to address the crime problem?
Thomas P. O'Reilly (D), (Incumbent) 43, of 7107 Lois La., Lanham, a lawyer, has been a member of the state Senate since 1974. He is active in community groups. His legislative interests have included tax relief, criminal justice, alcohol- related driving offenses and elimination of double taxation of municipalities.
Industry: The creation of new jobs can best be accomplished by encouraging new business to develop or old business to expand. Toward that end, government must avoid overregulating industries for the sake of addressing relatively insignificant problems. A typical example of regulatory ludicrousness is the Maryland regulation that prohibits a builder from installing air conditioners in town house development because of "noise pollution" generated by the average unit. The question of start-up capital is another problem that must be addressed. MIDFA and other similar programs in the state of Maryland were developed to encourage the growth of industry in this state by making a ready source of capital available to potential businesses at favorable rates. These programs have been incredibly successful but are limited by law to a somewhat narrow range of ventures. The purview of the law must be expanded to include a broad er range of businesses.
Reaganomics: While the concept of New Federal ism has a certain encouraging ring to it, as drafted, the proposed shifting of programs between the states and the federal government could prove to be an economic disaster for the state of Maryland. Without question, I support the federal government taking over the Medicaid program. In the next few years, expanding health costs will place an unmanageable burden on the states. I vigorously oppose, however, the suggestion that the states be required to take over either the food stamp program or the AFDC program (welfare to families with dependent children). I would suggest instead that the states, in exchange for the federal government taking over all welfare and Medicaid programs, assume responsibility for some of the other federally aided programs, such as education and community development. In that way, we would be in an independent position to set policy in these critical areas.
Amend: Unlike the federal government, Maryland has a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. We can not "print money" to cover our spending programs. Unfortunately, a growing part of our state budget has been the result of the state taking over programs started by the federal government but now abandoned. The difficulty experienced by many legislators in voting to end these "nice but really unnecessary" programs is the scenario that raises the question of a spending cap. Nevertheless, an approach that absolutely ties the hands of state lawmakers is unwise. A safety valve must be incorporated into the cap. One suggested approach is constitutionally to require a super majority vote to pass any spending proposals that would exceed some reasonable growth rate over the previous fiscal year. In that way, unusual fiscal problems could be addressed while the wasteful programs of lesser importance would tend to be eliminated.
Crime: Perhaps the greatest single flaw in our criminal justice system is the fact that a convicted criminal serves only a small fraction of the sentence imposed upon him by the court. In general, a prisoner is released after he has served one-fourth of his sentence -- often enough in a far shorter period of time. During the past legislative session, I introduced a bill that would have required an individual convicted of a crime involving a handgun to serve at least 50 percent of the sentence impossed before being considered for parole. The bill passed the Senate but was killed by the House of Delegates. While it may be argued that such a law might exacerbate an already overcrowded penal system, the answer is not to ignore the problem. If more prison beds are needed, then we should build them. The victims of crime deserve their share of justice, too.
Robert S. Redding (D), 52, of 6604 Adrian St., New Carrollton, a lawyer, has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1970. For four years he has served as chairman of the county's delegation. He is a member of Electrical Workers' Local 26, I.B.E.W.
Industry: The Baltimore-Washington corridor is potentially one of the richest markets in the county. Already traversed by major highways, such as I-95, Rte. 1 and the B-W Parkway, as well as two railways and a major airport, the area between the two beltways is ideally sited for significant clean, light industry and high-tech development. The state should prepare a master plan with incentive programs to promote appropriate development. Federal plans to dispose of surplus lands along the corridor offer an excellent opportunity to establish a catalyst for further development. The state should acquire these lands and make them available in a program attractive to industry that would in turn attract other industry. Concurrent with this, the state should upgrade the highways and increase state participation in refurbishing the railways. A much broadened tax base and thousands of new jobs would be the end result.
Reaganomics: The Reagan economic policy is a disaster. Six years of service on the Appropriations Committee of the House of Delegates has provided me with extensive experience in the interplay of state and federal funding and the implications of the Reagan administration's New Federalism policies. I am dubious of much of the rhetoric about transfer of function from the federal to the state level, but the state must be prepared to assume responsibilities shed by the federal government. We must be responsive to the economic and employment needs of our citizens. We cannot allow a depressed economy, excessive interest rates and callous reduction of federal funding to turn our citizens into an army of unemployed, economically depressed workers. If the federal government fails to meet the human and economic needs of the people of Maryland, the General Assembly and local governments must plan and initiate effective efforts to do so.
Amend: No. Even without the New Federalism, the state economy is far too large and complex to permit artificial limits. Our Constitution already requires a balanced budget, which means annual expenditures cannot exceed annual revenues; therefore, there cannot be deficit financing and a mortgaging of the future by borrowing to pay current operating expenses. A constitutional amendment to limit tax and spending means that the state would be powerless to act should the need arise. This is especially important when one realizes that the bulk of the state budget is salaries and employee benefits, both of which are quite low compared to federal workers and private industry. Under our present system, the restraint on tax increase is great. Legislators know that the cause must be sufficient to justify the cost or suffer in the ballot box. Witness the past 12 years where only modest increases occurred despite inflation and unemployment.
Crime: Crime concerns all of us. We fear it personally as actual or potential victims and socially for what it does to our sensibilities, to our trust and respect for others. Serving four years as chairman of the Law Enforcement Committee, I worked directly with police and correctional officials, prosecutors, the juvenile officials and state administrators of programs funded by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). This experience convinced me that we must re-examine our assumptions about both imprisonment and rehabilitation. I believe we must give substantially more attention to effective programs to rehabilitate Juvenile offenders. I really am not convinced that it is possible to rehabilitate violent criminals or repeat offenders who are in their mid- 20s or older, but that is where most of the rehabilitation money now goes. I think more must go toward efforts to keep juvenile offenders from developing into a new generation of hardened criminals.