House leaders would raise $60 million in fees
Majority leaders with Maryland's House of Delegates outlined a plan today that would raise roughly $60 million by hiking three fees -- collecting money that would help restore the depleted state highways fund and return some cash that Gov. Martin O'Malley wanted to chop from schools in next year's spending plan.
The House proposal, put forward by majority leaders, would double the amount motorists pay in for titles when cars are purchased from $50 to $100. The plan also hikes the fees for specialty license plates -- known as vanity tags -- from $25 to $50. Those changes would raise about $50 million and would be directed to the Transportation Trust Fund, with O'Malley raided to balance the budget.
The House plan includes some good news for the state's 23 counties: They would receive an additional $5 million in roads money, adding to the $8 million that O'Malley had offered them. Maryland's 157 towns also would receive more state funding for road repair. They would split a pool of $10 million for roads, up from the $2 million O'Malley suggested.
The $13 million in new local roads money is outside the legislative formula and considered a one time grant. "We are giving them a little survival money," said Del. Tawanna Gaines, a Prince George's County Democrat who chairs the transpiration subcommittee on the House appropriations panel.
House leaders also want to double fees paid by property owners when they register land records: From $20 to $40. The fees raise $17 million for the state, money that would help pay for the House plan to give nearly $60 million back to kindergarten through 12th grade education funds. The House also plans an assortment of cuts including $8 million to the state's university system.
Much of the details will be hashed out when the House Appropriations committee meets at 1:30 p.m. House panels are also expected to approve additional cuts from the governor's budget and vote on changes to the state employees pension plans.
More to come ...