What's Good for Business . . .

April 02, 1995

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has had his share of rocky moments in his inaugural legislative session. But when it comes to business development and fostering the Maryland economy, Mr. Glendening can claim a string of successes. The theme of his first three months seems to have been: "What's Good for Business is Good for Maryland."

As the General Assembly starts its final week in Annapolis, the governor can point to significant accomplishments. The surcharge on unemployment insurance has been cut by over one-third, putting $85 million back into local businesses while also increasing benefits for jobless workers. Real estate settlement costs are being reduced sharply. A tax on research and development is being phased out. The duplicate taxation of leased vehicles is being eliminated. The snack tax is headed for the graveyard. Tax credits for alternative fuel vehicles seem a certainty.

These actions send the right message to the corporate community. Both the governor and legislative leaders appear determined to erase Maryland's long-standing image as a place where businesses are not appreciated. The hostile Maryland government attitude toward corporate America, which started to crumble during the Schaefer administration, is collapsing under Mr. Glendening. An ardently pro-business speaker of the House, Casper R. Taylor, is also propelling these positive changes in the State House.

The new governor has been lucky, too. Mr. Glendening announced with great fanfare McCormick's decision to build a spice distribution plant in Harford County instead of York, Pa. Yet the terms were nearly identical to what had been offered by the outgoing Schaefer administration. Announcements by Comcast Cablevision and Bell Atlantic on significant local telecommunications investments came on Mr. Glendening's watch, too. So has a faster-than-expected growth in the region's economy.

One trouble spot is whether the governor can close the deal on a research institution for the University of Maryland at Baltimore headed by famed AIDS scientist Dr. Robert Gallo. Internal resistance within UMAB and big counter-offers from Virginia and North Carolina could mean a crushing defeat on what promises to be a world-class facility that could put UMAB on the medical research map.

Mr. Glendening listed business growth and jobs as top priorities in his State of the State and budget messages. He can point with pride to making good on some of these promises. By the time the General Assembly wraps up its 90-day session a week from Monday, the governor should have even more to crow about. What's good for business is, indeed, usually good for Maryland.

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