While the debate over the "living wage" proposal in Montgomery County was contentious, it had the positive effect of focusing attention on the challenges facing the "working poor."

Too many Montgomery County families have a tough time making work "work." In a recent survey, former Montgomery County welfare recipients who now have jobs identified the three most critical problems they have in getting and keeping jobs: child care, transportation and training.

We have introduced proposals that pick up on ideas from County Executive Doug Duncan. A $6.7 million proposal for FY '00 would fund a county earned income tax credit, more child care and transportation assistance, job training, and education, health care and housing assistance. It would emphasize delivery of health and human services to poor families in a neighborhood school setting.

The local earned income tax credit would supplement the earnings of the working poor, match the Maryland earned income tax credit and provide a money-in-the-pocket boost to working-poor families. These programs would be funded from the county's greater-than-anticipated 1999 income-tax revenues. The money could make a real difference for many people.

STEVEN SILVERMAN

MICHAEL SUBIN

Rockville

The writers, both Democrats, are at-large members of the Montgomery County Council.