The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released the county-by-county breakdown of the $12.8 million in transportation “capital grants” approved in the fiscal 2018 State budget for 23 counties. The General Assembly reduced the Governor’s original proposal of $27.4 million to $12.8 million, which includes $4 million of capital grants which counties have received since fiscal 2016, and $8.8 million in new grants.
The State distributes the funds according to the traditional highway user revenue formula, half based upon vehicle registrations and half based upon road mileage.
The grants are in addition to “traditional” highway user revenues: the statutory formula created by the State in 1968 through which some motorist revenues are distributed to the State, counties, and municipalities. These funds – some motor vehicle fuel taxes, titling taxes, registration fees and some others – are deposited into the Gasoline and Motor Vehicle Revenue Account, an account within the Transportation Trust Fund, and then 1.5 percent is distributed to 23 counties, 0.4 percent is distributed to municipalities, and 7.7 percent is distributed to Baltimore City.
For more than forty years, local governments have received at least 30 percent of these revenues to fund local roads and bridges – 83 percent of the public road mileage in Maryland. In 2010, the State reduced highway user revenues by 90 percent for most jurisdictions – and local governments have advocated for restored highway user revenues ever since.
The General Assembly’s action this year to provide counties some relief connotes a small step, but marked improvement over prior years.