The Glendening administration is running through the $20 million in Maryland's "sunny day" economic development incentive fund as though there's no tomorrow. Some legislators say this is irresponsible spending. In fact, lawmakers should be applauding what's happening because it is good news for the state's future well-being.
Even critics concede the money is going for solid, worthwhile business projects. The payments -- some in the form of loans that will be repaid -- should lead to nearly 900 new jobs and keep another 650 existing jobs in Maryland. That amounts to a hefty economic spin-off.
What kinds of projects are underwritten with loans and grants? McCormick & Co.'s spice distribution plant in Harford County. A $36 million regional distribution center for Saks Fifth Avenue in Aberdeen. An expanded regional service center in Towson for Bally's Health and Tennis Corp. An enlarged plant for a Carroll County auto parts manufacturer. A refurbished melt shop in Rosedale for a Swedish steel company.
Yes, Gov. Parris Glendening and his economic development chief, James Brady, have wasted little time closing deals for jobs. Yes, this leaves only $5 million in the sunny day fund with 11 months to go in this fiscal year. But the fund was set up to lure businesses to Maryland -- and that's exactly what the governor and his team have done.
If Mr. Glendening were tossing sunny day money around frivolously, legislators would have a right to be alarmed and upset. That isn't the case. These are solid business investments. More deals of this caliber would bode well for Maryland.
But would the governor then eclipse the sunny day fund? Absolutely. He and lawmakers would have to scramble to find other ways to continue the business incentives till the fund could be replenished next fiscal year. Let's not lose sight of the goal: Jobs, jobs and more jobs. Mr. Glendening is doing what he pledged last year during the campaign, promote economic growth. The legislature should support his efforts -- as long as the business deals are strong and make strategic sense.