Transportation Revenue Proposals Appear Doomed

Multiple reports indicate that legislation to increase t6ransportation revenues will not pass during the 2012 session. Both the originally-proposed bill to apply the state’s sales tax to gasoline purchases, and the more recent notion of increasing the overall general sales tax rate from 6% to 7% to support education, appear to have dropped from the legislative agenda.

The Governor’s original bill would have directed the new gasoline sales tax to a new fund, with 20% distributed to local governments (Baltimore City, other counties, and municipalities). While falling well short of the historic local share of 30% of so-called “highway user revenues.”

From coverage in the Gazette:

Gov. Martin O’Malley acknowledged this week his proposal to put a sales tax on gas was effectively dead, but his suggested alternative — a penny increase in the overall sales tax to fund road improvements — isn’t likely to fare any better, lawmakers say.

“I don’t think [it’s] very likely,” House Majority Leader Del. Kumar Barve (D-Dist. 17) of Gaithersburg said Wednesday, adding legislators from both chambers still were trying to negotiate a budget agreement.

The only revenue increases likely to be enacted were the ones already being discussed by the House and Senate, Barve said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach said he still was hoping to address the gas tax proposal before the end of session, scheduled for Monday, adding he didn’t think O’Malley’s sales tax increase would work.

The governor initially suggested the 1 cent sales tax increase at the beginning of the session in January, and later introduced a bill that would apply the state’s current 6 percent sales tax to gasoline to raise $613 million for transportation infrastructure. The 6 percent would be in addition to the state’s existing, 23.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax, which was set in 1992.

The Daily Record offers an editorial opinion that lack of movement to address statewide infrastructure needs could be a costly decision:

This week’s report on the sorry state of transportation funding in Maryland landed on the desks of state legislators with a resounding thud as the General Assembly entered the final days of its annual 90-day session with much work left undone.

For those legislators who keep looking the other way and repeating their mantra — “Crisis, what crisis? I don’t see a transportation funding crisis.” — there clearly is one.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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