Reporting Derek Valcourt
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Increasing the state’s gas tax is a hugely unpopular idea but Governor Martin O’Malley says it needs to be done. To that end, he took his message to lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.
Derek Valcourt has more on why the governor says we need it and why many drivers insist we don’t.
The major obstacle is sticker shock here at the pump.
Governor Martin O’Malley made his case to lawmakers, arguing an increase in the gas tax will increase new jobs by allowing counties and the city to get moving on long-delayed transportation projects like the building of the red line from Woodlawn to Johns Hopkins Bayview. O’Malley says it will help ensure the safety of Maryland’s deteriorating roads and bridges.
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“Look, none of us wants to pay more at the pump. We do not have to do this but you know that if we do not, we will pay for that, too,” O’Malley said. “Inaction, especially in this case, does have a cost.”
But with gas prices up 24 cents from where they were just one month ago, adding to the gas tax infuriates many.
“Definitely out of tough,” said Marta Gates-Jones.
Protesters brought their message to Annapolis.
“If you’re for jobs, you can’t be for a big tax on people going to their jobs,” said Robin Ficker.
And recent polls show these folks aren’t alone. A survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic found a whopping 76 percent of Marylanders oppose an increase in the gas tax. Under the governor’s plan, the state six percent gas tax would be phased in to the price per gallon, a two percent increase for the next three years.
“It’s just too much right now. The economy’s too fragile,” said Selena Griffin.
That appears to be sentiment shared by many lawmakers in Annapolis reluctant to support the increase.
Senate President Mike Miller has said he thinks the bill is unlikely tp pass this session, even though gas tax opponents agree road improvements are important.
“We need to raise money. I’m not sure this is the right way to do it,” said Larry Frederickson.
Maryland’s current gas tax of 23.5 cents per gallon was set back in 1992.