Historic Vote Paves the Way for Next Round of Key Road and Transit Projects
SMTA’s Top-Priority Bill – HB1515 Passes Senate – Heads to Governor O’Malley for Signature: Today the Maryland State Senate voted 27 – 20 to approve $4.4 billion in new transportation funding, adding roughly $800 million a year to the state’s severely depleted Transportation Trust Fund when fully implemented. The State Department of Transportation has provided this summary of the bill.
What this means:
- 57,000 new jobs for Maryland in construction and related industries
- State funding for major new transit projects like the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway will now be available, so these projects can move to construction within the next few years
- Dozens of planned road, bridge and intersection improvements – none of which would be possible without this legislation – can now move to construction in the near term (Watkins Mill interchange, Georgia Avenue & Randolph Rd, Brookeville bypass, completing Mid-County Highway, several corridor improvement projects in Prince George’s County, and much more)
This is a MAJOR VICTORY for everyone who is sick of traffic and a major boost for our economy — which is why this legislation enjoyed such strong support from leading business groups and transportation advocates in the State.
“Lock Box” Provision to Protect the Transportation Trust Fund SB829 Passes in State Senate — Moves on to House of Delegates for Final Approval
SMTA’s other top-priority bill for this session won final passage in the Senate in a 45 – 2 vote. Senate Bill 829 would call for a constitutional amendment to require a 3/5 vote by both Houses of the Maryland General Assembly in order to divert any future funding from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to other uses — a repeated problem in Maryland. The constitutional amendment must be approved by voters before it goes into effect but enjoys overwhelming public support. It would help restore the “Trust” in our Transportation Trust Fund and boost support for the new funding plan.
Please visit our Take Action page to express your support for more jobs, better transit options and less traffic.
Sign our On-Line Petition to “Invest Now” in a Better Transportation System!
Annapolis, MD — On Monday in the Maryland General Assembly, the House Ways & Means Committee took an historic first step toward addressing Maryland’s long-neglected crisis in transportation funding with passage of the first major transportation funding package since the state gas tax was last adjusted for inflation in 1992.
The Ways & Means Committee voted 15-4 in favor of a package of new revenues similar to recent proposals by key Democratic leaders in Maryland that have won broad support among statewide business leaders and transportation advocates. The House bill (HB 1515) differs from the original package introduced by Governor O’Malley and House and Senate leaders in key respects: It would apply only a 1% sales tax at the wholesale level (instead of 2% in the original plan). That would increase to 2% by January 2015 (instead of 4% by July 2014 in the original) and it retains the current 23.5-cent gas tax at the retail level and indexes it to inflation — a very good idea given that the State’s previous failure to do so is the main reason we are in this mess today.
It adds some new protection against future diversion of transportation funds to other uses, by requiring a supermajority committee vote and requiring repayment from the General Fund within 5 years in all cases (which is better than nothing), but this provision can and should be strengthened (to also require unanimous approval by the Board of Public Works, for example).
Once fully implemented, the total revenues raised would be somewhat less than the roughly $800 million per year the Governor proposed, which is a cause for concern. The actual need is for at least $880 million a year in new revenue, but this still would be by far the largest boost in transportation investment since 1992. It would be enough to allow the State to keep up with future operating and maintenance needs, invest in new capacity on crowded roads, repair failing bridges, and provide urgently needed funds for major new Washington-area transit projects like the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway — none of which would be possible without this legislation.
As we have pointed out before — every 10-cent increase in the gas tax translates to about $90 per motorist, per year, yet each of us is literally throwing away an average of more than $2,100 per year due to wasted fuel and other added costs directly attributable to our nations-worst congestion and poor road conditions. This package is a wise investment for taxpayers and for our future economic competitiveness as well. It will almost immediately create over 40,000 new construction jobs in our state, not to mention hundreds of millions more in economic growth and private-sector investment it will foster year after year. It is clearly the right step to take.
Please visit our Take Action page to express your support for better transit options and less traffic.
For more, see recent stories in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.
It has been a long time coming, but perhaps it was worth the wait. Tonight, Maryland’s three top State leaders: Governor Martin O’Malley, State Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, and House Speaker Michael Busch put forward a bold new funding package to support Maryland’s decaying transportation network.
It could not have come at a better time.
With tens of thousands of jobs in Maryland’s ailing construction industry literally hanging in the balance, and recent studies once again putting the national capital area at the top of America’s most severely congested communities, we are finally seeing signs that State leaders have come up with a plan that is big enough, bold enough, and smart enough to get the job done.
The legislature will have lots to say in the coming days as this proposal moves through the committees and to the floor, but what was introduced today would do several things:
- Provide over $800 million a year in new transportation funds when fully phased in — enough to fill most of the shortfall identified by the recent Blue Ribbon Commission — and enough to fund the Purple Line, Baltimore’s Red Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, Watkins Mill interchange, improvements to I-270, and hundreds of bridges, roads and transit improvements around the state.
- Put some 44,000 Marylanders back to work in the construction trades over the next 5 years — a huge and desperately-needed boost for our sagging “post-sequester” economy.
- Protect the funds in the Transportation Trust Fund from future raids.
- Save Maryland motorists time and money – the cost to the average consumer is far less than the nearly $2,200 each one of us wastes every year due to traffic congestion.
Read more: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/costofinaction.asp
Visit our “Take Action” page now to make your voice heard! Our leaders have listened to local business leaders, civic leaders, transit advocates and motorist who have been crying out for action for a decade or more. Now it’s up to us to show our support. Sign our petition for transportation investment today!
Governor Martin O’Malley’s key transportation funding bills will be heard by three key committees in the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates this week in Annapolis. Two identical companion bills, titled the “Maryland Transportation Financing and Infrastructure Investment Act of 2012″ (SB971 and HB1302) are scheduled to come before the Senate Budget & Tax Committee, and the House Ways & Means and Environmental Matters committees, all on March 14th.
Both bills add $613 million in desperately needed funding to restore Maryland’s decimated transportation capital investment program. After going without a significant increase since 1992 in the motor fuel taxes (the primary source of transportation funding in Maryland), critically important projects including the Corridor Cities Transitway, Purple Line, Baltimore Red Line, and dozens of major road and intersection improvements throughout the Washington suburbs and around the state CANNOT BE BUILT unless the legislature approves new funding of at least this magnitude.
The bill also includes a “lock-box” type mechanism to prevent future diversions of transportation dollars to unrelated purposes (to avoid future raids), and a number of other provisions.
The bills would apply Maryland’s 6% sales tax to gasoline sales at the wholesale level, phased in over three years. The cost for the average household comes out to under $30 per year in the first year; about $55 the second; and about $85 when fully implemented. Even at the full price, it is a small price to pay for reducing the $2,300 the average motorist in our state is currently throwing away in wasted gas and added wear-and-tear from sitting in the nation’s worst congestion.
Legislation is now pending in Annapolis to enact Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposed $613 million increase in dedicated transportation funding. The bill also includes a “lock-box” type mechanism to prevent future diversions of transportation dollars to unrelated purposes (to avoid future raids), and a number of other provisions.
The “Maryland Transportation Financing and Infrastructure Investment Act of 2012″ (SB971 and HB1302) have been referred to the Senate Budget & Tax Committee, and the House Ways & Means and Environmental Matters committees. Both are identical companion bills.
Under the bills, the transportation funding increase will be paid for by applying Maryland’s 6% sales tax to gasoline sales at the wholesale level, phased in over three years. The cost of this to the average motorist comes to about $30 per year for each of the three 2% increments, or $90 a year when fully implemented: A small price to pay for reducing the $2,300 each of us is currently throwing away in wasted gas and added wear-and-tear on our vehicles from sitting in the nation’s worst congestion. There are a number of other details you can get on-line at link above to the Maryland General Assembly website.
Public-Private Partnership Legislation Introduced as Well: As a result of the study commission headed up by Lt. Governor Anthony Brown on Public-Private Partnerships, legislation has also been introduced to expand the use of “public-private partnerships” in Maryland (SB 358/HB576) to help leverage more private investment in transportation projects that benefit all of us. The bill is now before the Senate Budget & Tax Committee (where a hearing is set for 3/7/12 at 1:00 pm), as well as the House Appropriations and Environmental Matters Committees.
Contact your legislator and urge support for these bills. State legislators simply need to be reminded to consider traffic relief and transit improvements as urgent priorities.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has come out with his long-anticipated proposal to increase transportation investment, and his proposal is consistent with a recently-issued Blue Ribbon Panel report that highlighted Maryland’s gaping shortfall in transportation funding.
O’Malley’s proposal would raise an additional $613 million a year in dedicated transportation funds, by applying Maryland’s existing 6% sales tax to gasoline sales at the wholesale level. These new funds will be used for critical local projects in our area: The Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway, improvements to Route 1, 4 and 5, and a long list of other badly needed improvements, none of which will ever happen without a new infusion of funding. The increase will be phased in, 2% per year, over three years and the total cost to the average driver of the entire increase is roughly $90 per year.
The average Marylander is currently wasting up to $2,300 per year in wasted fuel and wear and tear directly related to our worst-in-the-nation congestion.
The Governor’s plan includes important provisions to protect the Transportation Trust Fund from future raids, which is also good news for transportation advocates in the Free State. This is critical to winning support for the package.
Legislation is expected to be introduced soon, and as soon as it is released, we will post more details as the actual bill begins to move through the General Assembly.
This is an important step forward. Please visit our Action page today, and send a message to your representatives to “Invest Now!” for more jobs and a better future for all of us.
As reported in the Washington Post, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently renewed his commitment to introduce a transportation funding bill in this session of the Maryland General Assembly. This is very good news. Transportation advocates have been pushing for an increase of $850 million or more, consistent with the recommendations of an earlier Blue Ribbon Commission report for several years, to address the precipitous decline in transportation investment that has occurred over the past two decades.
Governor O’Malley correctly assessed the situation when he said: “Doing nothing doesn’t seem to be a responsible option.” He is absolutely right and Maryland legislators need to acknowledge this fact and act this year. There will not be another opportunity, with statewide elections looming in 2014.
Maryland’s transportation system is in critical condition right now, with deteriorating roads and bridges and the nation’s worst traffic congestion in the Washington region. Failure to act this legislative session will bring dire consequences for our local economy. Without a major infusion of capital funding, traffic conditions will soon reach a breaking point. Given the continued weakness in the state’s economy, and the inability to attract new jobs to key areas in the state without providing additional transportation capacity, this is the single most important thing on the legislature’s agenda this year because investing in transportation means jobs, jobs, jobs.
Recent polls by the Washington Post and others show that, on the surface, raising the gas tax appears to be unpopular, as is the case with most other taxes. However, these polls do not go beyond the surface level to ask if support would increase if the legislature also added a “lock box” to protect the Transportation Trust Fund from future raids, and if voters knew a 10-cent gas tax increase would cost each resident an average of $50 per year, far less than the wasted fuel and other costs each of us is currently paying due to congestion and poor road conditions — a staggering $1,500 per resident per year in Maryland, which is a direct result of continued failure to invest in key transportation improvements. When given these two pieces of information, support for a 10-cent increase soars in more detailed polling at the state and national level. Voters want more investment in transportation, and when they hear the case being made they find it persuasive.
Let’s face it, there is never an easy time to raise revenues from any source, but the gas tax has not been adjusted since 1992 and has lost more than half its value to inflation. Maryland residents are paying less now in gas taxes in real dollars than they did in the 1970s, and current funding levels are simply no longer economicially sustainable, so now is as good a time as any to bite the bullet and do what they know is right. Without an increase this year, major projects like the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway, or much needed improvements to Route 4, Route 5, I-270 and hundreds of others SIMPLY CANNOT MOVE FORWARD.
It’s time to raise the gas tax and index it to inflation now!
Visit our Action page to sign our on-line petition to “Invest Now!” in our transportation future.