The Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding met on February 14 to make recommendations on “near-term fixes” for transportation funding to be considered by the Governor and General Assembly this legislative session. The draft report includes two main recommendations, with a series of recommended actions.
The first recommendation is to “Put Trust Back in the Transportation Trust Fund.” Recommended actions include either a constitutional amendment to create a firewall so funds cannot be used for any other purpose or an approach where a fiscal emergency is declared and a 3/4 vote of each house is required by each house of the General Assembly before allowing a transfer of money from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to the General Fund. Two other recommended actions retain the existing portion of sales tax and corporate income tax revenue that is dedicated to transportation in the TTF; and restore Highway User Revenues to local governments.
The second recommendation is “Shore Up and Expand Core Transportation Funding.” Recommended actions include the following: 1) raise $800 million in net new annual funding for transportation through a combination of net new revenue and bonding; 2) Increase leveraging and bonding; and 3) Remove the cost recovery cap for Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) fees. The Commission also agreed upon a lengthy “Menu of Revenue Options.” This list includes various options for increasing the gas tax, vehicle registrations, titling tax, drivers licenses, the sales and corporate income tax, just to name a few.
The draft report also highlights areas the Commission will focus on following the General Assembly session. Some tweaks to the report were discussed during the meeting and the final report will be ready soon.