Maryland bills seek to increase fuel tax rate

| 3/12/2007

A couple of noteworthy state lawmakers in Maryland are calling for a boost to the state's fuel tax rate to help fill the void for needed transportation dollars.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Chesapeake Beach, has proposed tacking 12 cents onto the state's per-gallon fuel tax rates. The tax for diesel would increase from 24.5 cents per gallon to 36.5 cents while the gas tax would increase from 23.5 cents to 35.5 cents. Gov. Martin O'Malley is said to be "receptive" to the idea.

During his State of the State speech, O'Malley highlighted the need for more transportation funds. His transition team has gone as far to suggest a fuel tax increase to help foot the bill for roads and mass transit, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Miller said his plan would generate $400 million annually. The tax increase would translate into $3 billion in road and bridge work during the next five years because it would allow for the issuance of more bonds, the Sun reported.

Miller isn't alone in the push for higher fuel taxes. A similar increase is being touted by Delegate Sheila Hixson, D-Silver Spring.

Hixson, chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has proposed a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the fuel tax.

Both bills include mechanisms for the tax rate to automatically increase with the price of fuel, the Sun reported. Miller's bill would prohibit the tax on diesel from increasing above 40.25 cents per gallon. The tax rate for gas couldn't rise above 39.5 cents.

Miller's bill - SB949 - is in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Hixson's bill - HB821 - is in the House Ways and Means Committee.