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?
Joseph Curran Jr. (D), 51, of 5203 Springlake Way, Baltimore, has been a state senator since 1973. He chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee and has served on Public Utilities and Legislative Policy committees, the Higher Education Corporation and the Regional Planning Council. An attorney, he also served in House of Delegates for four years.
Crime: I support the commitment to local police departments through the state police aid formula. This assistance has greatly enhanced the departments' professional capabilities. I support the administration's commitment to making adequate prison facilities available and to insuring that the facilities maintain the desired number of professional staff for security and rehabilitative purposes. I will, for the governor, initiate a review of the juvenile service delivery system and recommend changes for his consideration, if deemed appropriate. I will continue my efforts to call for stiff, certain penalties for the illegal carrying of handguns. Drug abuse remains a national tragedy. We must join with the federal government and all states in making prosecution of drug crimes the highest priority. I await the report of the Judicial Study Commission and its recommendations to expedite delivery of judicial services in criminal causes. Elimination of duplicate trials would save valuable police and prosecutorial time.
Programs: Unfortunately, President Reagan's proposals focus upon shifting the wrong programs -- welfare, food stamps and other social services -- to the states. Programs to assist the poor have been universally regarded as the most fundamental of our federal domestic responsibilities. The reasons are obvious. States have unequal wealth. Some states, such as Michigan, have suffered from the recession while other states have struck oil. The causes and effects of poverty are national in scope. Every Western industrial democracy finances basic social welfare programs at the national level. No state has done more than Maryland in recent years to increase its fiscal support for human services. However, many states have historically failed to provide a decent level of social welfare benefits -- giving rise to the need for federal programs. State and local governments can more effectively deliver education, transportation and public safety services.
Taxes: I do not see any need for a tax increase next year. Placing Maryland on a solid fiscal foundation has been one of the Hughes administration's proudest accomplishments. This solvency has been achieved by constraining general fund budget growth to less than the rate of inflation in each of the last four years. With respect to elimination of taxes, more than $1 billion in direct and indirect tax relief has been granted to Maryland taxpayers during the Hughes administration. State tax relief includes: (a) reducing state income taxes by tripling the standard deduction; (b) eliminating the 5 percent sales tax on fuel and utilities used in the home, and on manufacturing equipment and farm machinery, and (c) expanding the homeowners' property tax credit to include elderly and handicapped renters. Further, increased aid to local governments has relieved Maryland homeowners of $670 million in property taxes.
Transit: The Reagan administration's proposals to eliminate federal transit operating funds and to greatly reduce capital funds are misguided and should be rejected. Mass transit continues to play an important role in the economic health of our nation's major cities. As energy becomes ever scarcer and more expensive, the significance of this role will be enhanced. If federal funds are not available, the need to operate the Baltimore MTA service and to provide operating assistance for the Metrorail/Metrobus system in Washington will not diminish, and the state's commitment to these systems will remain intact to the extent that revenues permit. Concerning the construction of new rail transit lines in either Baltimore or Washington, the high cost levels for these projects make them unfeasible in the absence of federal participation. Whatever federal funds are provided for this purpose should continue to be matched by the state.