Hogan Budget: $53m in New Local Transportation “Capital Grants”

Following through on a pledge to begin a phase-in of full Highway User Revenue distributions, Governor Hogan’s budget includes a new item of $53.6 million in capital grants above and beyond the HUR fomula in law. The grants are described in the Budget Highlights document, released today:

The Administration is providing capital transportation grants totaling $53.6 million, of which $5.5 million will be distributed to Baltimore City, $27.7 million to counties, and $20.4 million to municipalities. These grants in effect increase the distribution of the HUR formula to 8.0% for Baltimore City, 3.0% for counties, and 1.5% for municipalities. The distribution of funds for counties and municipalities will be made according to a formula based on locally maintained road mileage and vehicle registrations.

The total funding for local transportation is $36.7 million (or about 18%) higher than last year’s comparable distributions. The description of the distribution formula mirrors that used for the Highway User Revenues, and suggests that the county and municipal shares of the new funds will be distributed in the same fashion. No detail is yet available if the grants may be more limited in their use.

Restoring the historic share of local transportation funding has been atop MACo’s legislative initiatives for multiple years, and again sits atop that list for the 2016 session:

Local Transportation Funding Restoration – Restoring local Highway User Revenues (HUR) has been a MACo priority since the local share was slashed during recession-driven budgets. The former $555 million share has been drastically cut back to $167 million – with a mere $26 million to be shared among 23 county governments. The cumulative loss of local roadway investment has topped $2 billion – compromising roadway safety and betraying taxpayer expectations. With the recent expansion of transportation revenues and additional funds recently being allocated for roads and bridges, it is now time for local governments to again play a more significant role in the State’s transportation funding plan. MACo advocates for the restoration of local transportation funding.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties