Maryland’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to come up with recommendations to address Maryland’s transportation funding crisis, is close to wrapping up its work. Its recommendations will be finalized at their October 25th meeting, then conveyed to the Governor and state legislators. According to the preliminary draft presented to the Commission this week, a package of some $870 million in new transportation investment is being recommended. This is welcome news!
Key elements of the package appear to be: Protecting the Transportation Trust Fund from further “raids” for non-transportation purposes; a 15-cent increase in the Maryland gas tax (phased in over three years in 5-cent increments); and other increased vehicle fees and transit fares. Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, along with the County Executives from Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard Counties and the Mayor of Baltimore, have all publicly expressed support for increased transportation funds to pay for needed safety and congestion-relief improvements. Currently, each Maryland resident is paying almost $1,500 a year in wasted fuel and extra maintenance as a result of crumbling and overcrowded roads, bridges and transit facilities. In contrast, each 5-cent increase in the gas tax will only cost the average family about $25 per year, well worth the savings in time and money.
Ramping up Maryland’s decimated transportation capital program would also put thousands of local engineering and construction workers back on the job (and back in Maryland stores and restaurants), providing a major boost to our sagging economy. SMTA strongly supports the kinds of proposals the Commission seems ready to recommend, and calls upon the Maryland General Assembly to enact new dedicated transportation funds and restore the “trust” in the Transportation Trust Fund in this next session of the legislature, which starts in January.
Read more on the Blue Ribbon Commission website.