AAA fights diversion of transportation funds
AAA Mid-Atlantic was down in Annapolis this week in opposition to a proposal by General Assembly analysts to divert about $60 million a year in state sales tax revenues from the Transportation Trust Fund to the general fund.
Instead AAA urged the legislature to erect a higher barrier against raids on the trust fund to close general fund budget gaps,
Analysts proposed that a temporary diversion in 2008 of funds from the state sales increase adopted in the 2007 special session be made permanent as a way to help close future general fund shortfalls. Under Maryland's Constitution, that budget must be balanced. There is no requirement of minimum transportation funding.
AAA has previously supported various measures that would have insulated the transportation fund from being tapped when the budget falls short. This year it has endorsed a measure by Republican Del. Susan Krebs seeting up barriers to such diversions and requiring a payback plan when the legislature does resort to such measures.
"The Transportation Trust Fund’s credibility is important," AAA testified. "In 2008, we witnessed probably the fastest raid of the TTF ever seen, when money that was approved in the fall of 2007 and hadn’t even been disbursed, was diverted in April 2008."
Such proposals have failed before because legislators have viewed it as restricting their flexibility to deal with budget shortfalls.
AAA also testified in favor of a bill sponsored by Sen. Robert J. Garagiola, a Montgomery County Democrat, setting up a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding to make recommendation for short-term and long-term plans to finance the state's transportation needs.