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Budget chair warns committee to keep open mind on transportation

The chairwoman of the House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee told members Thursday to be ready to deal with legislation that could raise money for transportation, but cautioned she did not know what such a bill might look like.

“Whatever you’re hearing is not off the table,” Del. Sheila E. Hixson, D-Montgomery, told committee members during the House budget panel’s first meeting of 2013.

Gov. Martin O’Malley says he wants to raise between $700 and $800 million for transportation projects — such as the Red Line in Baltimore and Purple Line in Montgomery County — but has thus far only floated possible funding methods.

So far, he’s suggested a one cent increase in the state’s sales tax — which would be earmarked for transportation — or raising the gas tax, which has been 23.5 cents a gallon since 1992.

Hixson said members of her committee were in favor of a gas tax increase in 2012. But until a bill is presented — by the governor or someone else — she urged the panel to keep an open mind on how to raise money.

Republican lawmakers have suggested a regional transportation tax that would charge people in urban areas for mass transit projects, allowing proceeds from the gas tax to fund road maintenance. O’Malley has said he prefers a statewide model.

One comment

  1. Since we all know that the bulk of the Transportation Trust went towards Montgomery County and its county-wide Veola transit upgrade and the ICC connector (business tax credits we are sure), it appears having a tax that targets the Washington suburbs will be the answer to replenishing the Trust.

    The second problem to be addressed is the gas tax as the source of revenue and the fact that hybrids and electric cars fail to contribute to this taxing effort. So attaching fees to annual vehicle registrations would be a must for these cars and trucks.

    We need to recognize that gas wholesalers and retailers are the beneficiary of profits from the sale of gas that necessitate a progressive approach to taxing at the point of sale….wholesalers at 8% rate increase, retailers at 4%, and people at the pump at 2% rate increase to spread the cost of infrastructure more equally.

    Transitioning into a state sales tax equals a VAT that is regressive and fails to hold accountable the amount of maintenance needed for things such as refinery facilities and gas stations, the trucks, the environmental impact that comes from doing business but that the public takes on as part of oversight and mitigation. We do not want a VAT!