Maryland lawmakers to consider taxing issue

| 1/18/2011

Like most states throughout the country, Maryland is in need of an infusion of revenue to get road and bridge work done. In an effort to help refill the state?s depleted transportation fund one leading lawmaker is calling for a 7-cent boost in the state?s fuel tax rate.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr, D-Calvert, wants to increase the 23.5 cent per gallon tax to 30 cents. The tax rate hasn?t changed since 1992.

Miller isn?t alone in the pursuit of higher fuel taxes. Other state lawmakers are expected to push their own bills to increase the tax rate.

The Transportation Trust Fund is a dedicated source to support the Maryland Department of Transportation. Money is raised for the fund mostly through the fuel tax, vehicle titling taxes and vehicle registration fees.

The fund has suffered in recent years because of fewer revenues available as people have changed driving habits and more fuel-efficient vehicles are available. Also, road funds have been raided to help support the state budget.

Critics of boosting taxes say the state cannot authorize tax increases this year. Senate Minority Whip David Brinkley, R-Frederick, went as far as to call the idea ?insane.?

The struggling economy is the chief reason given for keeping the status quo on taxes. Brinkley said the state needs to do a better job of protecting what goes into the fund.

With the state facing a nearly $1.3 billion budget gap next year, Gov. Martin O?Malley has called on lawmakers to keep an open mind about raising taxes. The governor said he will not pursue new taxes himself.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland, click here.

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