State economy gains, Wasserman says

January 05, 1995|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland's economy gained some speed in the second half of 1994 and the momentum could carry through the first half of 1995, the state's top economic development official said yesterday.

"We are not out to be boosters here, only to say that there was a little bit of a trend toward improvement that may provide a little bit of momentum going into 1995," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of Economic and Employment Development.

But Mr. Wasserman acknowledged that the state will continue to lag the national average in economic growth for the foreseeable future and still faces severe challenges. Those include being more susceptible than most places to any further interest rate increases, the likelihood that additional defense cuts will strike at some of the state's prime employers and the possibility that a new Congress in Washington will slice into the state's big federal job base.

"Continued refinements and improvements in Maryland's business climate are critical" to the state's economic future, Mr. Wasserman said in one of his last public appearances before leaving office along with Gov. William Donald Schaefer later this month.

He urged that the new legislature reduce the transfer taxes and other levies that make Maryland's settlement costs for buying a house among the highest in the nation; eliminate the "snack tax" and "go after the other nagging taxes that are causing us trouble."

On the brighter side, Mr. Wasserman said tourism in Maryland is "on a roll" and with modest budget increases can continue to expand its contribution to the state.

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