Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In just nine days, Maryland gets its first gas tax increase in 20 years. It’s meant to fund transportation projects statewide.
But the price hike couldn’t come at a worse time for some drivers.
Kai Jackson has more on the impact.
Many are worried their personal budgets can’t keep up with the gas tax increase.
Wallets are tightening and tempers are flaring as Maryland drivers get ready to pay the state’s first gas tax hike in 20 years.
“I understand why they would like to do it because of the need for our whole state of Maryland. But it’s going to really hurt a lot of us,” said Hilda Kellum Aston, Southwest Baltimore.
Governor Martin O’Malley signed the gas hike into law during the 2013 legislative session. The governor says the transportation fund was running out, and the increase was necessary to pay for billions in future projects.
“As we build up and build out a modern transportation system, it will create an estimated 57,200 jobs over the next six years,” Governor O’Malley said.
The current tax is 23.5 cents per gallon. Starting July 1, it will go up four cents, just as the summer driving season gets underway.
It goes up another eight cents in 2015 and eight cents more in 2016. By 2018, Marylanders could be paying about 45 cents a gallon in taxes.
A group that advocates for small gas stations says the hike is a business and job killer.
“We have a lot of border with Delaware, we have a lot of border with Virginia. And our dealers along the borders are going to really feel it. Some will go out of business,” said Kirk McCauley, Service Station Dealers of America.
Those WJZ spoke with feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place. Unless public transportation is an option, you either pay the gas tax, or you don’t drive. Quick frankly, if you drive, that’s not really enough.
“I’m sort of ambivalent, I’m just whatever. I’m at the point it’s whatever. I need to buy gas to get to work every day,” said Peggy McNally, Parkton.
It’s estimated the gas tax increase will generate some $800 million a year for transportation projects around the state of Maryland, or, $4.4 billion over the next six years.
Experts predict the gas hike will prompt more Marylanders who border Pennsylvania and Virginia to drive across state lines in search of cheaper gas.