Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday that the dispute with lawyer and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos over his fee for representing Maryland against the nation's cigarette makers would not prevent the state from spending $1 billion over the next decade to fight cancer and develop anti-smoking programs.
His comments came two days after Maryland's attorney general sued Angelos, asking a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to order the lawyer to seek his fees from an arbitration panel established as part of the states' national settlement with the tobacco industry.
Angelos has refused, insisting he has a contract with Maryland to receive 25 percent of the $4.2 billion the state is to receive from cigarette makers to compensate it for past Medicaid costs related to smoking.
State budget officials have been concerned that the legal wrangling leaves uncertain how much of the money will actually be available for programs. But Glendening (D) told anti-tobacco advocates in Annapolis yesterday he expected the dispute to be resolved before the new budget year begins in July and it "should not in any way interfere with this program."
Glendening made his remarks as he announced some of the details of his $1 billion proposal to fight cancer and smoking, including plans to launch a major anti-smoking advertising campaign featuring one of Angelos's star Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr.
The governor said much of the ad campaign would focus on young people and African Americans, who have been targeted by tobacco advertising.
Ripken, whose father died from lung cancer earlier this year, appeared with the governor yesterday and said he would make regular appearances at schools and in commercials.
The state is expected to receive $1.7 billion of its share of the settlement over the next 10 years. Glendening wants to earmark $1 billion for cancer research and treatment, programs to attack drug and tobacco addiction, and an initiative to help tobacco farmers shift to other crops. The rest would be spent on education and other programs.
Virginia, by contrast, has decided to spend only a small percentage of its projected $4 billion tobacco windfall over the next 25 years on health issues. A bill passed earlier this year directs 10 percent of the money to fight youth smoking and 50 percent to assist tobacco farmers and their communities.
Both Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) and legislative leaders from both parties want to spend the remaining 40 percent on transportation improvements, though medical groups and drug companies are hoping to win at least part of that remaining money for research or other health needs.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) would like to use money from the District's tobacco settlement to finance $9.9 million in bonuses for unionized city workers.
In Maryland, some legislators and elected officials have grumbled that much of the cancer research money--about $15 million a year--would go to two Baltimore-based institutions, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Medical System.
Glendening yesterday said he would like to steer $10 million a year to hospital and community group-based anti-cancer programs in the Washington suburbs, including Dimensions Health Systems in Prince George's County. The governor also noted that Johns Hopkins and the university medicial system have working relationships with medical facilities in the Washington area.
In addition to the spending initiatives, Glendening said he would propose legislation to force insurance companies to pay for smoking-cessation programs.
In an interview, House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the state doesn't have to tangle with insurance companies. The tobacco settlement offered so much money, he said, that it would easier for the state to buy nicotine patches and other aids and make them available for free to anyone through hospitals and clinics.
Staff writers Michael Cottman and Craig Timberg contributed to this report.