The Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding met on Monday, January 24 to continue discussing revenue choices and begin making recommendations. Conversations were very positive throughout the meeting and there seems to be consensus for the following three recommendations: 1) protecting the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) through the adoption of a constitutional amendment; 2) maintaining the share of the sales tax dedicated to the TTF; and 3) restoring Highway User Revenues (HUR) to local governments. The Commission will meet again on February 14 to finalize its recommendations.
To aid with the Commission’s discussions, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) prepared documents summarizing funding initiatives of other states, current revenue sources and yields, and potential primary revenues sources. MDOT also prepared a chart detailing potential uses of the additional funds. These include a number of MDOT specific initiatives and restoring local government HUR funding, among others. The Commission has set as a funding target the amount necessary to meet MDOT’s needs and restore local HUR funding, which totals $1.1 billion. To achieve this funding level, the Commission began discussing the potential primary revenue sources, which includes varying rate increases to the current menu of taxes and fees (vehicle titling tax and sales and use tax, gas tax, vehicle registration, driver’s license, sales and use tax, and corporate income tax). The Commission did discuss a possible increase in the gas tax of ten cents, with indexing, as well as an increase of a higher amount to be phased in over a period of time, but left this for further discussion at the next meeting. The Commission anticipates identifying a menu of revenue generating options for the General Assembly to consider to achieve the identified $1.1 billion in transportation needs.