Transportation “Lock-Box” Amendment Draws Support from over 80% of Maryland Voters
Maryland voters have spoken! And with their overwhelming approval tonight, the Maryland Constitution will now be amended to prevent the diversion of Transportation Trust Fund revenues to non-transportation purposes. Any way you look at it, this is a huge victory for Maryland transportation advocates, and passage of Question 1 will help ensure a more stable and predictable funding stream for major transit and road improvements in the Free State for years to come.
SMTA is releasing the following statement to mark this historic victory, which for us has been 10 years in the making:
Statement of Samuel Raker, Acting Chair, Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance (SMTA)
On the Passage of Maryland Ballot Question 1: November 4, 2014
This is an historic moment for transportation advocates in Maryland. In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the first major increase in transportation funding in a generation. This year, voters moved to protect those funds so major new projects like the Purple Line, the Red Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, and hundreds of intersection, road and bridge improvements in every part of Maryland can move forward to construction.
The voters of Maryland have spoken loud and clear that they want to protect our future ability to invest in transportation by enacting a “lock-box” constitutional amendment – by a wide margin — that will effectively prevent Maryland Transportation Trust Fund dollars from being diverted to other uses. These new constitutional protections are real, and will set a high barrier that future state leaders will find difficult to circumvent, legislatively, politically and constitutionally.
Restoring the public’s trust that Transportation Trust Fund dollars will be spent meeting our urgent transportation needs was SMTA’s highest priority this year, and thanks to the hard work of leaders from across the political spectrum we can now say, “mission accomplished.” But the longer-term mission of improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation network remains a work in progress.
Of particular note today is the margin of victory Question 1 achieved: Based on unofficial returns (with 88% of precincts reporting at this writing), Question 1 appears to have garnered the support of 81% of Maryland voters. This is a stunning example of the high priority Marylanders from across the political spectrum place on making investments in our critical transportation infrastructure.
This is also a vivid reminder to Maryland elected officials that voters have made transportation investment an urgent priority and they should too. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller has been listening, and played a leading role in securing passage of Question 1. He deserves much of the credit along with a strong coalition of groups and individuals who came together this year to see it through. Let’s hope the days when most elected officials in this state treated transportation as a distant afterthought are long gone, however we must do more than hope.
The challenge now is to finish the job of ensuring adequate transportation funding by restoring the nearly $1 billion in local transportation funding that was diverted out of the Transportation Trust Fund prior to Question One’s passage, and never restored. Then let’s make sure going forward that our transportation dollars are invested wisely in projects that make the most difference in reducing congestion, improving access to jobs and housing, supporting economic growth and sustainable communities, and improving the quality-of-life of our citizens for years to come.
Passage of Question 1 is just a start, but it’s a heck of a good start!
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