Transportation fight to be tough in General Assembly

State lawmakers return to Annapolis today for the start of the 433rd session of the General Assembly, and already the fight over transportation funding is setting up to be fierce.

In a radio interview with The Marc Steiner Show, Gov. Martin O’Malley said the state needs to raise $700 to $800 million in transportation revenue for mass transit projects and road maintenance — a number that Greater Baltimore Committee president and CEO Donald C. Fry has frequently cited.

Fry said Wednesday that House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. both understand the need to raise transportation money. But Fry, who was a delegate the last time the state raised the gas tax two decades ago, said it would take a big push to arrive at a comprehensive solution.

At the outset, the House appears most weary of raising taxes.

“I think the speaker acknowledged he has to find his path to 71 votes,” Fry said. “It’s gotten to the point that it is a crisis.”

O’Malley also said Wednesday morning that he believes there is the political will to pass gun control legislation this year, including a ban on assault weapons. Miller added that the governor’s wind energy initiative and and a death penalty repeal were likely to pass in the Senate.

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