Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)— Opposition is growing for Governor Martin O’Malley’s plan for a gas tax increase. Maryland’s chief tax collector is speaking out against the proposal.
Political reporter Pat Warren has more on the potential impact of the comptroller’s position.
Democrat Peter Franchot breaks ranks with the Democratic leaders to oppose a gasoline sales tax, calling it a crushing blow to families and small business.
Maryland lawmakers are asked to consider a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline. What Governor O’Malley calls an investment, Comptroller Franchot calls a beat down.
“It would just be a brutal assault on people that can’t afford to pay for this,” Franchot said.
Never the best of allies, Gov. O’Malley and Comptroller Franchot managed to make peace at the Board of Public Works.
“The comptroller is independently elected,” O’Malley said at the Board of Public Works as Franchot sat right next to him. “If he wants to talk about this and wants to ask some questions, he’s going to talk about it and ask some questions.”
But the comptroller’s particular questions concerning the governor’s gas tax increase could turn Maryland taxpayers’ pump woes into a pump war between the chief executive and the state tax collector.
“I’m sounding the alarm,” Franchot said. “I can’t find five people that support the gas tax other than the Senate president, the governor and one or two business elites who are millionaires.”
A group of labor and business leaders made a public show of support for a gas tax last month before the governor’s sales tax plan was revealed.
Senate President Mike Miller considers the comptroller’s position detrimental.
“You know the public is against the gas tax increase, but leaders say ‘Look, folks. We need to help you help yourselves. It’s a quality of life issue. We need to move forward,’ and he’s not helping that one iota,” Miller said.
But Franchot isn’t fazed by the prospect of political fallout.
“I have black and blue marks from my independent positions in the past. I have no problem whatsoever communicating to people that this is a really bad idea and bad timing,” Franchot said.
The comptroller says the state should wait until Maryland’s economic condition is on sound footing. The Senate president says Franchot is a comptroller seeking higher office.
The governor has not yet released details of his plan.