Budget knife nicks state business programs

October 02, 1991|By David Conn

Gov. William Donald Schaefer's latest round of budget cuts hits economic development programs that train employees, advertise Maryland to out-of-state businesses, send the governor abroad on foreign trade missions and provide information to travelers.

The budget reductions, which the Board of Public Works will vote on today, will reduce the Department of Economic and Employment Development's budget by $2.775 million, or 6.3 percent. The department will lose eight employees and four vacant positions.

But because about 85 percent of DEED's programs and employees are sustained by federal funds, the department will be hurt by the cuts less than many other state agencies.

Other business-related programs that will suffer under the governor's plan include:

* The Department of Agriculture, which will lose $1.3 million, or 6.2 percent of its fiscal 1992 general fund allocation;

* The Department of Housing and Community Development, whose Division of Community Assistance will lose almost 25 percent of its grants to local communities for development and renewal programs;

* The Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, which will lose 6.4 percent of the $251,796 it was to receive in fiscal 1992;

* The Department of Licensing and Regulation, slated to lose 5.1 percent of the $26.4 million that was allocated for regulating Maryland's licensed industries, from banking and insurance to horse racing and cosmetology.

Hardest hit within DEED will be the office of tourism and promotion, which would lose 9 percent of its $13.9 million budget.

Much of that money is for grants to arts institutions, for the Office of Sports Promotion, for the state film commission and for the Maryland House travel information center on Interstate 95.

The Division of Business Development, which works to convince out-of-state companies to locate in Maryland, will lose 8 percent of its funds, mostly for national advertising and for grants to counties.

The Maryland International Division, which helps local companies do business abroad and attracts foreign companies to Maryland, will lose $334,000, or 7.7 percent, of its $4.3 million budget under Mr. Schaefer's plan.

Included in those cuts are $159,000 in grants to counties interested in international trade and $175,000 for the governor's foreign trade missions. A trip to Mexico, scheduled for the end of this month, has been postponed, possibly until late next spring, DEED Secretary Mark L. Wasserman said.

The department's Division of Business Resources, which provides job training and skills development for employed and unemployed people, will lose 3.1 percent of its $8.9 million budget. All of that $275,000 reduction will be in the state's portion of the federal Job Training Partnership Act. The program funds lunches and transportation for welfare recipients in job training and day care for their children. The job training itself will be unaffected.

"For us, this has been a terribly painful process, and we've had to move into new, agonizing territory," Mr. Wasserman said. "People are losing their jobs, quality of life is being affected by reductions to the arts, the basic notion of putting people back to work and taking them off of welfare is under siege."

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