O’Malley promises roads money to locals
It was the latest attempt by the governor to build a case for increasing taxes in the 2012 legislative session as a means to fund a massive public works program that he hopes will stimulate the state’s sagging economy. The most recent jobs numbers show that Maryland’s unemployment rate inched up in September for the fourth straight month in a row.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch has said that county level leaders will need to help push for tax increases. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said he will push some type of revenue package in his chamber.
Much of O’Malley’s rhetoric was familiar. As he has frequently in the past, he noted that the cost of painting the Bay Bridge now more than the original cost of building it.
But he did offer leaders a carrot: He said additional state revenues would allow him to give them more money to repair roads. In recent years the governor has raided local “highway user revenues” in order to balance Maryland’s budget.
“Whether we pay for our infrastructure or whether we pay in so many other ways is up to us,” O’Malley said.
The governor did not spell out any specific taxes he would raise. Last month he said that he’d consider making a change to the state’s gas tax. In Tuesday’s speech, though, he made a case against a straight increase to the levy.
“A traditional flat tax on gasoline, by itself, actually becomes a declining revenue source,” O’Malley said according to his prepared remarks. “When the new generation of cars and trucks that are being designed are built to use less and less gasoline. What worked well for us for the last 40, 50, 70 years isn’t going to work in an era when we’re pushing electric drive cars, hybrid cars or vehicles that are powered by other fuels.”
O’Malley didn’t offer any other suggestions, though in the past the governor has suggested indexing the gas tax rate.