As reported in the Annapolis Capital, Governor O’Malley indicated that he could support new revenues for transportation.
O’Malley, who spoke to reporters after talking to students at the University of Maryland, said he has not yet reviewed recommendations made by a state commission this week to raise $800 million for transportation needs, but the governor said the state has a pressing need to invest more.
O’Malley has said he would not propose any new tax measures to close the state’s budget shortfall but that he was open to legislators’ ideas.
Sen. Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery, is proposing the state raise between $400 million and $600 million more each year for transportation. His proposal includes a 10-cent hike in the state gas tax, a gas tax inflation index starting in 2013 and a 50 percent increase in vehicle registration fees.
A key provision includes a constitutional amendment that would prohibit future transfers from the trust fund to fill other budget holes, as the O’Malley administration has been criticized by business groups for doing. Voters would have to approve the constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot.
O’Malley, who has proposed transferring $100 million from the trust fund to plug other budget holes in his current budget plan, also said he could support the constitutional amendment idea, but he described it as “a bit of a distraction.”