Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of Maryland were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Crime: If elected, what legislation would you propose and what administrative steps would you take to combat crime?
Programs: The Reagan administration has begun a major shift of federal programs to the states. What shifts, if any, do you favor and which do you oppose? Please explain.
Taxes: Would you commit your administration to not increasing taxes next year? Are there any state taxes you would try to eliminate?
Transit: If the federal government eliminates or further reduces funding for mass transit, what should the state do to continue operation and construction of the Washington Metro and the Baltimore subway?
Harry Hughes, a 55-year old Democrat, is completing his first term as governor. An attorney, he was elected in 1978. A former secretary of the state Department of Transportation, Hughes served four years in the House of Delegates and 12 years in the state Senate. Hughes is chairman of the transportation, commerce and technology committee of the National Governors' Association. He resides at Government House, Annapolis.
Crime: I would continue my active support of local police departments (police aid increased from $67 million to $74.4 million during my administration). I would continue to make certain that adequate prison facilities exist, with sufficient staff and services (academic and vocational programs, drug and alcohol treatment, etc.). This year, my administration committed $88 million for prison construction, facilities to house more than 1,400 beds are under construction, another 500 beds are being designed and construction of another 500-bed facility is being considered. Security is being emphasized, resulting in the lowest escape rate in a decade. Second-time drug pushers face stiff penalties. While only 8 percent of juvenile criminals are serious, repeat offenders, steps have been taken to prosecute them more easily in the adult criminal system. Innovative efforts have been initiated to rehabilitate youthful offenders, to pursue repeat offenders and to develop vigorous crime prevention programs.
Programs: In the sorting out of responsibilities between federal and state governments, I have argued that income security programs (welfare, Medicaid) should be federal responsibilities, to insure that uniform standards exist nationwide. Programs which the state and local governments perform more efficiently and effectively (e.g., education, law enforcement) should be state and local responsibilities. New Federalism is rapidly becoming a euphemism for a process that shifts federal government costs to states without shifts in resources. This suspicion arose after the states' experience with block grants. The increase in fiscal flexibility was welcome; the dramatic decrease in funds for health, education and welfare grants was heart-rending. In Maryland, fortunately, we offset the cruelest of the cuts, but the Republican administration in Washington should not use New Federalism as a shabby device for dealing with deficits. It should broaden its vision to target responsibility and streamline relationships among governments.
Taxes: I see no need for a tax increase next year. One of the major accomplishments of my administration has been to place Maryland on a solid fiscal foundation. In the last four years, general fund budget growth has been less than the rate of inflation; in the last two years, the increase has been less than 6.7 percent. More than $1 billion in direct and indirect tax relief has been granted Maryland taxpayers during my term in office. State incomes taxes have been reduced by tripling the standard deduction ($500 to $1,500). The 5 percent sales tax has been eliminated on fuel and utilities used in the home, as was the 2 percent sales tax on manufacturing equipment and farm machinery. The homeowners' property tax credit has been expanded to include elderly and handicapped renters. Because of increased aid to local governments, Maryland homeowners have been relieved of $670 million in property taxes.
Transit: I do not support the Reagan administration's proposals to eliminate federal transit operating funding and to curtail capital funding. Mass transit continues to be an essential element in the transportation systems of our nation's cities, particularly in this era of energy scarcity, and it deserves federal support. If this federal support is not forthcoming, the state's obligations to operate the Baltimore MTA service and to provide operating assistance for Washington's Metrorail and Metrobus service will remain intact to the extent that revenues permit. With respect to new rail transit construction in either Baltimore or Washington, such activity always has been dependent on federal funding. The state should continue to provide the matching share to whatever federal funds are made available for this purpose.