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Schaefer increases development funds Economic agency avoids big cutbacks


ANNAPOLIS -- The governor's fiscal 1993 budget, released this week, reflects his affection for economic development by providing for increased funding.

Although much of the Department of Economic and Employment Development's operating budget has been cut -- along with those of just about every other state agency -- DEED Secretary Mark L. Wasserman said he was able to convince Gov. William Donald Schaefer that some programs are worth the expense.

"We made the case for some modest level of restorations" in some programs, Mr. Wasserman said yesterday.

Overall, the department's regular operating funds are budgeted to increase 4 percent, to $39 million, in fiscal 1993, Mr. Wasserman said.

Those programs include:

* The Partnership for Workforce Quality, which helps companies determine their workers' retraining needs and provides them with matching grants.

The program would receive $1.25 million, compared with $851,493 last year.

* Technology challenge grants, a funding program for early-stage technology companies.

The fiscal 1993 budget allocates $746,000, up from $240,000 in fiscal 1992. Mr. Wasserman said his department is asking the legislature for the power to require some of the companies that receive state funds to pay back royalties if they become profitable.

* Project Independence, which provides education, training and support services to help welfare recipients make the transition to the workplace, also received increased funding.

* An extra $250,000 was allotted to tourism marketing, which Mr. Wasserman said had been cut deeply this year.

The 1993 budget also includes a few large capital projects related to economic development:

* The Christopher Columbus Center for marine research in Baltimore would receive $17 million in capital funding.

* The Maryland Bioprocessing Facility, to support the creation of high-tech companies, would receive $15 million.

* The Sunny Day Fund, which is designed to help the state act on breaking opportunities such as attracting companies to Maryland, would get $2 million.

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