ELECTION 2014: Maryland voters will decide on transportation 'lockbox'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/26/2014

Voters in Maryland this November will decide whether to protect transportation funds from raids for other budgets.

According to state figures, millions of dollars have repeatedly been rerouted from the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund through the years. An estimated $1 billion has never been refunded.

Question 1 on the statewide ballot will ask voters whether the state constitution should be amended to create a “lockbox” to secure revenue from fuel taxes, vehicle sales tax and registration fees, and transit fees for transportation purposes.

A constitutional amendment is already in place to protect education funding.

Advocates say the protection for transportation purposes is long overdue. They point out that the state’s Transportation Trust Fund has been raided a dozen times during the past three decades.

As a result, they say the state has some of the worst traffic conditions in the nation and a long list of roads and bridges that are in poor condition.

Critics say the proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t go far enough. They point out the lockbox has a key.

Question 1 would require the governor to declare a fiscal emergency and a three-fifths vote of each chamber of the General Assembly to divert funds away from transportation purposes.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports Question 1. The Association sent a Call to Action to Maryland truckers earlier this month encouraging support for the question at the ballot.

“Fuel taxes and other revenue generated by roadway users should not be diverted to non-transportation related programs,” the OOIDA letter states. “The taxes you pay should be used to build and maintain roads and bridges and other transportation systems in Maryland.”

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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