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Maryland GOP Responds To Tax Increases

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Republican leaders criticized gas tax and toll increases that went into effect Monday, saying rising prices will hurt residents and scare away businesses.

A sales tax on gas adding roughly 3.5 cents to a gallon went into place Monday. Toll increases around the state also went to effect. The GOP held the first of two news conferences near the Bay Bridge, where the toll went from $4 to $6, less than two years after it was raised from $2.50.

“When the gas tax is added to bridge, tunnel and road toll increases, many of which have doubled, Maryland motorists will be saddled with a highly inflated driving cost, and as business shipping and delivery costs skyrocket, it is the consumers who will bear the brunt of rising prices of just about all consumer goods, including food and clothing,” said Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel.

Democratic supporters contend the increases were long overdue. Maryland’s gas tax was last raised in 1992. Maryland was on track to run out of money for new transportation projects after 2017 without new revenue. Supporters of raising the revenue also note that many Maryland residents battle some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion.

Virginia also passed a major transportation revenue package this year. Maryland business groups, including the Greater Baltimore Committee, supported the increases in Maryland to keep the state competitive with Virginia in attracting businesses.

Republicans also criticized the Monday deadline for the establishment of fees for storm water remediation for the state’s 10 most populated jurisdictions.

The state’s GOP leadership scheduled a second news conference Monday afternoon in Frederick.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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