Gas Tax: Maryland Drivers Prepare to Get Hit at the Pump
by Jocelyn Rubin, Capital News Service
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley rolled out a new transportation investment plan on Monday, designed to build up the state's Transportation Trust Fund, relieve traffic congestion, and create jobs.
O'Malley announced the proposal in Annapolis with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael Busch by his side. Busch stressed the need for a funding plan that would provide Maryland with the same competitive edge for federal transportation money, as states like Virginia.
"There's limited federal dollars," said Busch. "If we don't have the money to match the mass transit money, which is 50 percent of the cost, we're going to the end of the line. Virginia has put themselves in the position to get to the front of the line. We have to be there with them."
The proposed plan would be funded primarily by a change to the state's gas tax. Under the plan, the current 23.5 cents per gallon tax would be reduced by five cents and then replaced with a two percent sales tax on the wholesale price of gas, beginning as early as July.
At a gas station in Annapolis, customers had mixed feelings about the plan. "If they could get something permanently earmarked for the capitol improvements and the road improvements, I would support it," said Annapolis resident Thomas Gooding. Greensboro resident Gabriel Gray did not agree. "I'll be going to Delaware to buy gas if he does that," said Gray.
House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell called the the Governor's decision to introduce this bill so late in the session, "outrageous."
According to O'Donnell, a new plan isn't necessary to fund new transportation projects. O'Donnell said more weight is currently given to mass transit projects than the roads and bridges that need to be repaired, and to fix this distribution dilemma, the state needs to give one third equal funding to mass transit, roads and bridges, and other transportation projects.