Hopeful Option for Funding Transportation Projects

Barry Rascovar, for the Gazette, writes about transportation funding to counties and the hope of more federal stimulus dollars to fund transportation projects over the next couple of years.

Some $400 million was stripped from county governments and Baltimore city so state legislators could crow about closing a yawning budget gap without raising taxes.

Even worse, state lawmakers then passed a law shifting a huge chunk of the state’s highway user revenues from the counties permanently.

What this means is that there won’t be dollars to fix deteriorating local streets — unless counties raise their own taxes. That isn’t likely to happen until local citizens start pressuring county councils to do something about the crumbling roads they travel. Government will be making life harder, not easier, for its citizens.

A blue-ribbon commission is supposed to deliver an interim report by year’s end on how to finance transportation projects. This is mainly window dressing because the all-important final report isn’t due until Nov. 1, 2011. That gives the governor and lawmakers an excuse for not acting until the 2012 General Assembly session at the earliest.

The only hope is that O’Malley’s favorite uncle (Sam, the one who lives in the District of Columbia) will find a way to dump new truckloads of stimulus dollars on states for transportation construction.

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