BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With the start of the General Assembly just days away, lawmakers are preparing to tackle some controversial topics, including a proposed hike in the gasoline tax.
Derek Valcourt explains there’s a grassroots effort underway to stop it.
Public opinion appears to be on their side. A September poll shows strong opposition to a gas tax increase.
Ask most drivers about raising the gas tax and the answer will come back quick.
“Terrible idea,” one driver said.
But this year, the governor may consider raising that tax by as much as fifteen cents to pay for state infrastructure projects that create jobs.
“We have to figure out whether we’re willing to pay another penny in order to bring these things about or another nickel or another dime,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.
“This is a recession. We shouldn’t be raising taxes, period,” said Nick Loffer.
Loffer is with Americans For Prosperity, a group hoping to put the brakes on a gas tax increase. They’re planning what they call “Occupy the Gas Tax” rallies at several major intersections this weekend.
“It’s a double tax. You get hit once at the pump and then whenever you do something or have to pay for something that’s dependent on transportation, gasoline, that cost is going to be passed on to you,” Loffer said.
Those who support a gas tax hike say it’s about time. They point out it’s been about 20 years, back in 1992, when the state last raised the taxes we pay per gallon.
“I think we consume fossil fuels recklessly and I think gas should be actually much more expensive than it is, so I think it’s a good thing. I support it,” said John David Evans.
Right now, for each gallon you pump, you’re already pumping out 23.5 cents in state taxes. A fifteen cent hike for drivers of most sedans would equal about $2.50 a fill-up. It’s a price some say would pump pain into their wallets.
“I understand the motivation behind it, but it’s scary. I already pay a lot for gas,” said Trina Brooks.
Opposition appears to cross political lines. That September Gonzales poll shows both Republican and Democratic voters oppose significant increases in the gas tax.
Occupy the Gas Tax rallies will be held this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’ll have one at the intersection of York and Seminary, one at the intersection of Bel Air and Joppa and one at Rt. 40 E and Middle River.