Highway User Revenue Restoration, With a “Trigger,” Gets MACo Support

MACo Execuitive Director Michael Sanderson testified in support of Senate Bill 161, “Transportation – Highway User Revenues – Allocation,”  before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on February 1, 2017.

This bill phases in restoration of highway user revenues to counties over seven years, provided that Transportation Trust Fund revenues exceed the most recent estimate of the Board of Revenue Estimates for the applicable fiscal year. INtroducing the bill, its sponsor Senator Steve Waugh expressed the need to “find an affordability trigger” to move the restoration forward – an element that has not been present in other similar proposals in recent years.

For more than 40 years, local roadways received 30% of highway user revenues (motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees). The Great Recession forced cuts to this area deeper than those in any other component of the state budget. 23 counties’ share of funds plummeted from $282 million in 2007 to only $27 million today. Baltimore City alone now receives $85 million less each year than before the cuts. The cumulative loss of local roadway investment since Fiscal 2010 is nearly $3 billion.

From MACo testimony:

Highway user revenues fund roads and bridges throughout our entire state, through an equitable, time-tested formula based on road mileage and vehicle registrations. This touches the roads our kids ride to school, the roads our first responders travel to keep us safe, and the roads where we all live. SB 161 begins to bring transportation dollars back to 83% of the roads and bridges in Maryland, and brings transportation dollars back to everyone’s home. SB 161 offers a path to restore these desperately needed funds, with a contingency based on ongoing revenue strength.

Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City identified reinvestment in local roads, bridges, and infrastructure as one of their top legislative initiatives this Session. All 24 jurisdictions – of varying sizes, budgets, and regions – are united in the need for a Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland (LIFT 4 MD).

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.