Voters in Maryland this week made it more difficult for the state to raid transportation funds 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.
By a margin of 81.6 percent to 18.4 percent, Question 1 on the statewide ballot was approved by voters. As a result, the state Constitution will 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 that the lockbox has a key.
Question 1 requires 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 endorsed Question 1. The Association sent a Call to Action to Maryland truckers prior to Election Day encouraging support for the question at the ballot.
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