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Gas Tax Takes Center Stage Once Again In Annapolis

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — When it comes to the family budget, the cost of gasoline is as volatile as the fuel itself.

In Annapolis, legislators have now taken up a bill to increase the gas tax for the first time in 20 years.

Alex DeMetrick runs some of the numbers.

As the crow flies, getting around might not be so bad. But down on the ground in Maryland, it’s some of the worst congestion in the country. That’s put the governor and the state’s top legislators on the same page to pull more revenue from every gallon pumped by raising the gas tax.

Some in construction and economic development like the idea.

“There’s nothing going on except a bridge rebuild here, an intersection change there. It’s patchwork,” said James Russ, Md. Transportation Builders.

“The  bill will result in tens of thousands of jobs building and repairing roads, bridges and mass transit,” said Don Fry, Greater Baltimore Committee.

But it should come as no surprise not everyone sees benefits in a tax hike, especially given what it already costs to fill up.

“I spend like $60 a week,” a driver said.

And the people who sell that gas would be the ones passing a tax increase along.

“I have a lot of truckers and the increase is going to kill them,” said Roseanne Biggs, BP dealer.

“It’s going to kill everybody. It’s going to kill business, it’s going to kill the public,” said Dave Barsotti, Sunoco dealer.

Right now, the bill would actually cut the excise tax on gas from 23.5 cents a gallon to 18.5 cents.

But it would put a 4 percent tax on the wholesale price of gas, which means two cents more a gallon this July, seven cents more next July. That adds up to a higher tax than today’s.

“I don’t know how they think they can do this,” Barsotti said.

Supporters say it’s needed for infrastructure to keep Maryland competitive by raising:

“A total of $3.4 billion over the next five years,” said Fry.

Dealers close to Maryland’s borders are worried they’ll lose business to nearby states with cheaper gas.

Those opposed to the bill say transportation revenue has been raided for other projects, and there are no guarantees it won’t happen again.

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