Mayor William Donald Schaefer, whose reputation rests largely on his redevelopment efforts in this city, stated his position on economic development today, emphasizing regional cooperation and the expansion of Maryland's high-technology industry.
Schaefer, 64, a four-term mayor who is running for governor, told a crowd gathered for a ribbon-cutting at the Seton Business Park that his administration would improve the state's economy by encouraging rapid growth over tax increases that might drive businesses away.
Schaefer proposes to:Develop partnerships between state and local government that will result in a "regional strategy" for growth.Involve state universities in more intensive high-tech, engineering and biomedical research efforts.Promote tourism and increased trade through the Port of Baltimore and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The administration of Gov. Harry Hughes, Schaefer said in his position paper, provided "a general lack of leadership," resulting in a "crippling failure" that hindered development by discouraging cooperation between government and the private sector.
Schaefer also criticized state Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs, his opponent in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary, for his plan to increase the state's 5 percent sales tax by a penny in order to provide more money for education. "The governor of Virginia says, 'pass that tax,' " said Schaefer. "He's sitting down there waiting to steal our port business."
Sachs' campaign manager Blair Lee IV said Schaefer's plans emphasize funneling public money to the private sector without specifying how the new initiatives detailed in his position paper will be funded.
"I'm curious about how the mayor is going to pay for 'Inner Harborizing' the rest of the state" Lee said, alluding to Baltimore's downtown renewal project.
The only financing strategy proposed in the 31-page position paper was issuance of taxable state general-obligation revenue bonds to replace tax-exempt bonds depleted by federal budget cuts that have been used in the past to support industrial park projects.