This governor means business

January 27, 1995

There's nothing fancy about Gov. Parris N. Glendening. He is a no-nonsense, policy-driven chief executive more comfortable putting Maryland's problems "in the proper context" than wearing funny hats. His State of the State address yesterday illustrated how determined this governor is to focus on substantive details, especially if they relate to bringing jobs to Maryland.

Mr. Glendening took a major step yesterday in identifying himself as a pro-business governor. He made it clear that the primary thrust of his administration will be private-sector job-creation. He wants to do this through a combination of regulatory shifts, tax changes and cooperative links to the corporate community.

A Department of Business and Economic Development will zero in exclusively on job growth issues. (Unemployment and job-training agencies will be moved to an expanded Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.) The new DBED secretary -- with a slimmed-down staff of 200 -- will take orders from a private-sector commission that will plot Maryland's first strategic business plan and oversee a comprehensive marketing initiative.

Taxes on snack foods and research equipment will be scrapped. Companies using alternative-fuel vehicles will get a special tax break. More tax reductions to help spur growth are promised.

All business-related permits and regulatory matters regarding the environment will be consolidated in the present Department of the Environment. This will give the Department of Natural Resources a more limited but highly focused mission: to act as the protector and manager of the state's land and water.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the governor's 40-minute speech was the commitment to steer job growth to cities and communities with established infrastructure. Not only will this return jobs to urban and developed areas of Maryland that need a boost, it will preserve farmland and open spaces that might otherwise be prime targets for business sites.

Mr. Glendening was also quick to point out that new jobs don't have to come at the expense of the environment. He pledged to preserve our precious natural resources, especially the Chesapeake Bay. Removing bureaucratic red tape and overlapping regulations for businesses doesn't have to come at the expense of the environment, he said.

Mr. Glendening laid out a comprehensive road map for legislators yesterday. His main priority is business development and job growth. His next assignment is to persuade the state's senators and delegates to follow his lead.

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