Governor O’Malley recently announced his appointments to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding. The Commission will be chaired by Gus Bauman, an attorney at Beveridge & Diamond in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. MACo’s representatives are Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Charles County Commissioners Vice President Edith Patterson. Garrett County Administrator R. Lamont “Monty” Pagenhardt is being appointed as a representative of rural counties.
The transportation funding commission was formed at the urging of transportation advocates in the General Assembly, which passed similar bills in the House of Delegates and Senate this spring calling for the commission’s creation.Transportation improvements are paid for by a special pot of money called the Transportation Trust Fund, and several sources that contribute to the fund have fallen off because of a drop in consumer spending. Revenue from car title and registration fees, sales and gas taxes, in particular, have diminished.The commission will look at alternative ways to pay for those improvements, potentially including an increase in the state gas tax and privatization of tolling booths on the state’s highways.