OCEAN CITY -- Looking to move beyond past conflict, Gov. Parris N. Glendening called for government and business to form a "true partnership" to bolster Maryland's business climate.
The governor told a gathering of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce that business and state government must work together to promote the state's many positives -- and work respectfully to resolve differences in policy.
"Disagreements among us are certain," Glendening said. "It does not mean one of us is 'good' and the other 'evil.' It simply means we disagree.
"But on the larger issues, on the issues that truly matter to the future of Maryland, I think it is safe to say we have broad agreement," the governor said.
Glendening's relationship with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce cooled dramatically in recent years. While the business group does not formally endorse political candidates, its leaders were clearly supportive of Glendening's opponent, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, in last year's election.
But with Glendening winning re-election and the chamber having new leadership, both sides are expressing hope that a new cooperative relationship can be built. Both sides agree on the need to promote what is good about Maryland.
"If we have a difference of opinion, we will respectfully disagree and focus on what's positive about Maryland," said Art Ebersberger, a Severna Park insurance executive who is the new chairman of the chamber. "It's a new chamber. It's a new focus."
In an interview, Glendening said he looked forward to a cooperative effort to sell Maryland.
"In the last decade, there's been this tendency to be critical," Glendening said. "I think the chamber now realizes that." The governor also called on the media to do more to publicize positives about the state.
While Glendening made a pitch for new cooperation, he will clearly continue to have differences with the state's business community.
In recent weeks, he has stopped work on the Intercounty Connector, a long-sought roadway in Montgomery County favored by business groups.
He also has resisted calls for new rounds of tax cuts supported by many business leaders and Republican lawmakers.
Ebersberger acknowledged that such differences are inevitable.
"The governor has business, environmentalists, citizens and everyone else to deal with," Ebersberger said. "We understand that."
In his speech last night, Glendening recapped some of his administration's accomplishments during the past five years, highlighting state spending on education, worker training and school construction.
Rather than cutting taxes, the state should focus on "investment," Glendening said.
"Now our need is long-term growth and stability," he said. "Our focus is investing in our infrastructure, in our people, in our businesses."