As previously reported, the Governor is seeking support from the business community for increased transportation funding. However, opinions vary as to whether such initiatives should be enacted, and if they are, when the discussion should take place, during a special session this fall, or during the 2012 General Assembly session.
From an opinion piece in the Annapolis Capital:
We can’t endorse a gas tax increase. It would be a regressive measure putting the same extra load on struggling car-owners and rich car-owners alike. It’s potentially disastrous when gas prices are already soaring – and threatening to sap what little energy remains in the state’s wobbly post-recession economy.
And it’s not defensible while the Transportation Trust Fund remains adorned with a “help yourself” sign. Although O’Malley doesn’t stress the point, the main reason the fund is so depleted is the repeated use of it, not to build or maintain highways or even to set up transit programs, but to make ends meet in the state budget.
While the business community has come out in support of an increase in the gas tax, they want the discussion to take place during a usual 90 day session, not during a special session in the fall.
Legislators have said they will strongly re-consider a failed proposal from this year’s General Assembly to raise statewide taxes on gasoline and could do so as soon as this fall, when the assembly meets for its special congressional redistricting session.
While a tax increase has support from several of the state’s Democratic leaders, others have warned that considering it this fall could prove unpopular with residents already paying more than $4 per gallon for gas and could lead to even more taxes during the session.