Maryland panel to consider boost in transportation spending

| Thursday, October 23, 2003

Maryland transportation officials told a commission Oct. 21 the state must raise an additional $300 million annually to pay for needed road and transit projects by 2010, The Washington Post reported.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan and other state officials spelled out what they termed a menu of options for raising $1.8 billion over six years to deal with safety problems and to reduce congestion.

The options include more than doubling the vehicle registration fee, which alone would raise the $300 million needed annually, state officials said.

Increasing the fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon would raise $318 million annually. The task force also could recommend a combination of money-raising measures, such as increasing the vehicle registration fee nearly 60 percent and the fuel tax by 5 cents a gallon.

Other options include increasing the titling tax on the purchase price of new and used vehicles from 5 percent to 6 percent, applying the 5-cent sales tax to fuel for the first time and increasing the sales tax on all items from 5 percent to 5.25 percent.

The 29-member commission, appointed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. to find solutions to the state’s transportation funding problems, will hold six public hearings on the money-raising options. It will report to the governor in mid-December, shortly before the General Assembly opens its 2004 session.

William Hellman, chairman of the task force, told The Post he did not know whether the commission would recommend one funding option or several. It also could make no recommendation and leave the decision to the Legislature.

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