Gov. William Donald Schaefer said today the state has identified 142 capital construction projects worth $270 million that will be speeded up in an attempt to give the Maryland economy a quick breath of life.
In a speech in a glittering, palm tree-lined atrium at the Owings Mills Mall, a feisty Schaefer said the state can no longer "wait for economic recovery."
Many of the projects, which would receive federal, state and local funding, had been slated for 1992. Under the governor's plan, they could start as early as this month.
"People need work, and now is the time," Schaefer said.
Under the proposal, the state would shorten the time it takes to get construction projects under way by one week to six months. This would be accomplished by compressing review schedules, having more frequent bond sales and stepping up design timetables, the governor said.
In addition, Schaefer called on Maryland merchants to create incentives, including major discounts, that will encourage shopping during the Christmas season.
Schaefer said the effort unveiled today would not affect budget cuts already announced by the state, but might avert future reductions.
"If we don't do something for the economy . . . and those sales tax revenues aren't there for the months of November, December and January, we may be facing further cuts," he warned.
Schaefer visited several shops at the mall, but not everyone was happy to see him.
"It seems to me that he wanted to raise taxes, but he knew it would be unpopular," one merchant said. "So he went after people's jobs and ended up hurting people. When all along, if he wanted to raise taxes, he should have been up front about it."