Counties Lament Lack of Roadway Dollars

As county officials reviewed Governor Hogan’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget, many were disappointed to find that additional funding was not provided for local roads and bridges. Local transportation funding restoration is MACo’s top legislative priority for the 2015 session.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Hogan’s transportation budget brought disappointing news for local government officials.

While campaigning last year, Hogan had promised the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League that he would restore hundreds of millions of dollars in “highway user revenues” that O’Malley diverted from transportation to plug holes in his recession-era budgets.

“We were definitely disappointed. We were hoping and anticipating to see some additional highway money in there for local government,” said Andrea Mansfield, legislative director for the counties.

Mansfield said the loss of the grants means that counties will struggle to maintain vital infrastructure, but she said county officials would understand Hogan’s decision.

“They are grown-ups and they understand budget realities,” she said.

There is hope that this issue will be revisited later in the session.

Administration officials said restoration of the highway money remains a priority for Hogan, and they hope an improved March revenue estimate provides money the governor can use for that.

For decades, local roadways were funded as one of the modes of transportation receiving 30% of Highway User Revenues (motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees). The local share was slashed during the recession-driven budgets, and the former $555 million has been drastically cut back to $167 million – with a mere $26 million to be shared among 23 county governments (that figure used to be $282 million). The cumulative loss of local roadway investment is approximately $2.1 billion.