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Supporters Of Gas Tax Hike Cite Necessary Improvements To Md. Transportation

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The prospect of a gas tax hike this year stirs Marylanders to action.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains demonstrations on both sides have already started.

The opposition rang in the new year with its message loud and clear.

“How is anybody supposed to pay for anything if you keep raising taxes?”

Opponents of a gas tax hike took it to the streets on Jan. 7.

“This one’s mine, help yourself, grab a sign, let’s get on the corner let’s start waving to some folks,” said one person.

Marylanders have paid 23.5 cents a gallon tax on gasoline since 1992.

“A lot of other states have a hybrid approach where they do a flat and they also index it,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “So we’ll have more on that as we search for consensus.”

A search that may have received a boost Thursday as those in favor of a gas tax increase got their start, the Statewide Transportation Alliance to Restore the Trust– the Transportation Trust Fund.

Angie Johnson works for a paving construction company.

“I know it’s hard to put extra money in your tank, but if it grows jobs and fixes the roads, it’s a no-brainer,” Johnson said.

According to the state vommission on transportation funding, Maryland has $12 billion in transportation needs– projects that mean jobs and less time burning gas going nowhere fast in traffic congestion.

“We’re ejecting money out of our tailpipes that could be spent on building these roads and transit systems in the state,” Tim Butera of the Laborers Cooperation Trust said.

The O’Malley administration has not announced exactly when it will have a proposal to present to the General Assembly, but when it does, that’s when the real fight begins.

The coalition includes 90 organizations and businesses.

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