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February 1, 2011

Garagiola: Increase gas tax by eight to 10 cents

Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola this morning revealed a few new details about his much anticipated transportation package of legislation.

The bill is still shifting, but it will likely include an eight to 10 cent increase to the gas tax and as much as a 50 percent cross-the-board hike in motor vehicle registration fees, he said. The current gas tax is 23.5 cents.

A key element of Garagiola's bill will be a constitutional amendment that puts the new transportation revenues in a lockbox. The idea is to wall off the funds so future governors can't transfer transportation money to pay for day-to-day state operating costs.

He outlined the idea last week with a group of business leaders who also support higher taxes as long as the money stays in transportation. Gov. Martin O'Malley moved $100 million away from roads and transit this year, and has employed similar maneuvers in the past.  

The constitution can't be changed before November 2012 -- so in the meantime any new money from a gas tax increase would be fair game for  transfers. Garagiola (a chess player) said it's important to think a few years ahead.

His bill also won't specify that funds should go to counties -- but he intends about $100 million to help them. He noted that the sum is deceptively low, because the infusion of cash will also allow the counties to borrow more from Wall Street if they so choose. The counties are receiving $420 million less in road repair money than they did in 2006.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:42 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


So once again the citizens of Maryland have to foot the bill for MOM'S fiscal incompetence.

I believe the word in your headline is spelled IncrEase... Nice editing!

From Annie: Thanks.

Stop with this regressive taxation (which hits rich and poor alike). A fairer way to go would be to reinstitute the higher state income tax bracket for millionaires.

A gas tax hike is pointless unless it is indexed. Consider 2008, the price of gas hit $4.00, and Marylanders drove less. The result, the state collected fewer gas revenues and, as a result, there was less funding for MTA and road projects that became even more critical as we all wanted to save gas. An indexed tax, that could be revenue neutral based on the average gas price, would insure that the state has transportation revenues when needed most.

Josh is right about indexing; gas is going way way up thanks to our Harvard educated President whose sentences are short and snappy. Bush's sentenes were long and often fragmented. So Obama must be smarter. NO oil drilling in the most productive areas of the US, and Barack O now intends to pave the path to Islamis power in Egypt and Jordan. Bog down our military in Central Asia in a hopeless war. Oil will soar thanks to this agent of Islamist influence. So a gas tax if not indexed and segregated(sorry "attorney" Holder) is worthless. And we dont need any gas tax. Our ed system and medicaid system gobble up most of our dollars and don't do what they are supposed to do. Privatize them, cut taxes in MD, and grow the economy. The national economy is going down the tubes thanks to Sheik Barack, so we have to do what we can on the local level. Anyone for a return to the gold standard?wne statnkya u

This headline could as easily be, "Garagiola policy would limit pollution, repair roads, pay for transit." That is, if Maryland uses thoughtful, long term planning to favor transit such as the trackless rapid transit Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich champions--as it appears we must and will. The proposed lockbox amendment provision should not be limited to this issue, however. The legislature should have authority to dedicate funding sources to important objectives, if only to counter-balance the tremendous power the Governor and Board of Public Works wield in appropriations.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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