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Lawmakers Continue Push To Pass Gas Tax Increase

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Lawmakers are on the third leg of a Democratic leadership push to get a gas tax hike passed before the end of the session.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports some senators are concerned that the bill won’t do what it promises.

According to a panel of witnesses, the road construction industry’s lifeblood is connected to the gas pump.

“I gotta figure out how I’m gonna make a living,” said one resident.

“The governor’s funding proposal will probably save my job,” said another.

“I gotta eat and if they don’t do something, we’re not gonna be able to eat,” said a third.

Under the plan, Marylanders would be paying between 13 and 20 cents more a gallon by 2016, a gradual increase that would mean another $19 to $100 a year out of drivers’ pockets and into the state to the tune of $4.4 billion over the next six years.

“Your justification is our safety with our roads, our highways and our bridges and yet the anticipation is we’re going to put more money into mass transit,” said David Brinkley.

Some lawmakers feel the proposed gas tax hike offers no guarantees of better living or better roads.

“People in my district…will choose to purchase their products over state lines. Those jurisdictions will get the revenue. We still have the needs; we won’t get the money,” Brinkley said.

For years, Marylanders have protested efforts to raise the gas tax, and just as persistently, the governor has brought it back. Speaking for the governor, Chief of Staff Matt Gallagher told the Senate Budget and Taxation Panel that there is more to lose by doing nothing.

“While it’s not going to be popular with some constituencies that this has to go up, the reality is that it’s been 20 years since there’s been an increase and that there are significant consequences associated with our lack of investment with our infrastructure,” Gallagher said.

The committee is expected to approve the bill, although it could be amended. Any amended bill that passes the floor of the Senate will have to be reconciled with the House version.

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