In a letter to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) requested local government representation on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation created by Senate Bill 229. This Commission would review, evaluate, and make recommendations on many aspects of transportation funding, including highway and maintenance needs. In addition, it would examine the current State funding sources and structure of the Transportation Trust Fund; short- and long-term transit construction and maintenance funding needs; short- and long-term highway construction and maintenance funding needs; options for public-private partnerships, including partnerships with local governments, to meet transportation funding needs; the structure of regional transportation authorities and the ability of these authorities to meet transportation needs in various regions of the State; the impact of economic development and smart growth on transportation funding; and options for sustainable, long-term revenue sources for transportation. These facets go beyond funding and will have an impact on planning, land use, and economic development, all of which local governments directly oversee.
The Commission would consist of 21 members with expertise in the areas of transportation, planning, and the environment, yet in the bill as introduced, there are no representatives to provide expertise in these areas from local government. In the letter to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, MACo requested that membership be expanded to include two representatives appointed by MACo and two representatives appointed by the Maryland Municipal League (MML). This will allow each organization to have one representative to speak to the funding aspects of the Commission’s discussions and another to comment on planning and land use aspects.