O’Malley says new funding needed for transportation
Gov. Martin O’Malley made a case to Maryland’s business community that the state needs more money to fix roads and build new ones in a 15 minute speech to the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday night.
Outlining five “hard truths” about the state’s aging infrastructure and dwindling revenue sources, he appeared to be laying the groundwork for a package of tax and fee increases. Top lawmakers have speculated that the fall special session needed for congressional redistricting will include a fix to the transportation trust fund.
“I’d like to tell you bridges are like trees and if we left them alone they would grow taller and stronger, but it is not true,” O’Malley said. “He said he would “like to” be able to say that the state could “build a $90 million bridge for $10 million” but added “it does not work that way.”
During the 2007 special session, O'Malley proposed an gas tax that would rise on an index, but he noted that the idea was not popular. The governor reminded the audience that there is a cost to inaction -- 495, he said, is like a parking lot. A region known for snarled traffic will not be able to attract new companies, he argued.
He also said that tolls will raise. The money is needed to pay for the widening of I-95 in Baltimore County and the Inter County Connector in the DC suburbs.
William T. Riley, Jr., the new chairman of the Maryland Chamber, spoke briefly after the governor and asked him not to a wide array of taxes during the special session, when the rules are different and bills move much more quickly through the legislative process.