Reporting Derek Valcourt
ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Fixing highways and bridges to improve traffic is a top goal of Maryland lawmakers, but where will that money come from? Some lawmakers want you to pay more at the pump.
Derek Valcourt has more on the possibility of a hike in the state’s gas tax.
It is not a new idea and with gas prices already high, it is not a popular idea either.
When Governor Martin O’Malley led a push to increase the gas tax in 2012, the voices of opposition were loud.
“Per gallon, per mile, per day. It adds up,” a motorist said.
The top lawmakers agree the need is still strong for money in the state’s transportation trust fund to improve roads and bridges.
“One of the reasons we have the best schools is because we’ve made the investment in creating the best schools. One of the reasons we have the worst traffic is because we haven’t made the investment,” said O’Malley.
Some argue the investment should still be pumped in through our gas tanks.
Maryland’s gas tax of 23.5 cents per gallon hasn’t increased since 1992.
Add one extra penny and Maryland could boost an extra $700 million dollars, but that doesn’t sit well with some lawmakers who argue any tax will hit rural residents hardest, forcing them to pay for road projects near urban centers like Washington, D.C.
“Take a look at the ICC. That was a boondoggle. Nobody’s using it. We’re still gonna be paying for that,” said Del. Mike Smigiel.
While Maryland lawmakers are talking about the idea of a gas tax increase, our neighbors to the south in Virginia are talking about the exact opposite.
Virginia’s governor has asked lawmakers there to eliminate the state’s gas tax and increase the state’s sales tax. Part of the new revenue and part of the general fund would go to transportation.
Maryland’s House speaker, Michael Busch, said he is watching Virginia and waiting.
“They adjourn much earlier than we do, and I think some of what you have to take a look is actually the actions they take over there,” said Busch.
With a lot of eyes watching what happens in Virginia, it could be right up until the end of the session before we see any action taken on transportation funding.
O’Malley said he will unveil his legislative proposals in a news conference next week.