I have been a volunteer dentist for the people of Smith Island for the last four years. At the request of Smith Island’s pastor, Rick Edmunds, I took over from Dr. Marty Barley, who although he lived in Leonardtown on the western shore, provided dental care for the islanders for the previous 20 years.
Until this past year, I brought all our consumable supplies and a portable dental unit with me from my office in Snow Hill on each boat trip.
Thanks to the recent support of State Senator Jim Mathias and his staff, I now have the supplies and equipment needed to provide this much needed service to Smith Islanders. Responding to my request for help, Senator Mathias contacted Dr. Harry Goodman, the director for the Office of Oral Health for the state of Maryland, who was able to obtain the necessary grants to provide dental treatment for the next three to four years.
On behalf of the people of Smith Island, I would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Senator Mathias and Dr. Goodman for their efforts and support.
Dr. Bill Plack
Wage Change Should
In a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars, Maryland counties will be forced to pay more for school construction as well as roads, wastewater treatment plants and other public works projects thanks to the legislature taking a bad law and making it even worse.
The 2014 General Assembly has passed legislation to apply the prevailing wage to additional local government projects that receive partial state funding. The prevailing wage which is essentially the union wage, artificially inflates labor costs by ab estimated 30% to 50%
I commend Harford County Executive and Gubernatorial candidate David Craig for speaking out on the impact of the new law on his county, as well as the impact of prevailing wages on the state budget. Every local elected official concerned about getting the most value on public projects should want to let the market determine employee wages as is done in the private sector. County Executive Craig points out that the prevailing wage adds an additional $30 million cost to his county’s $300 million capital budget for school construction.
Would we put up with a government that sets an s hourly wage of $50 an hour for everyone who shovels snow, and then require consumers to pay that wage? I don’t think so! But that is essentially what the state is doing now with taxpayer-funded public projects.
The Maryland prevailing wage enables Democrat politicians to increase campaign contributions from their labor union allies. This is a taxpayer subsidy to a favored sub-set of workers. And the legislation discriminates against young, unskilled workers who might otherwise obtain an entry-level construction job. Many young people would like to learn skills as an apprentice carpenter, but employers can’t afford to hire them at the inflated union wage rate.
The prevailing wage has another side effect. Like many other government programs, this one grows and expands. The number and value of Maryland projects subject to prevailing wage requirements has risen dramatically in just two years. The state labor department advises that its prevailing wage unit currently monitors more than 700 projects, compared with 187 in 2011. With this new law, the state estimates an additional 50 school projects will be monitored for compliance.
The prevailing wage law artificially increases costs for schools and other public works projects, bestows benefits on a favored political class and creates more regulations for construction businesses. No Governor should tolerate such an obviously flawed system. David Craig has made it clear that he will not, and I encourage all the other candidates to speak out just as clearly in favor of fiscal responsibility and enabling more school construction at lower cost.
(The writer is a former minority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates.)