I rarely disagree with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce; not only am I a member, but I am also a board member. When it comes to the recent approval of the gas tax increase by the General Assembly, the Chamber was touting its role in the approval to increase the gas tax. They even sent a listing of who in the General Assembly voted against the approval. Thank you, Chamber, now it will be easier to designate my political contributions to those on the list. I am not a proponent in what amounts to an 86% increase in the gasoline tax over the next three years. The increase will go from 23.7 cents to 43.7 cents per gallon by July 2016. This will place Maryland with the 5th highest gas tax in the country and we wonder why we can't compete against Virginia, whose gas tax remains at 10.5 cents per gallon. In these challenging economic times to raise the gas tax will mostly penalize low income households who, for the most part, drive older, less efficient cars.
I am also still mad at the raids on the Transportation Trust Fund that occurred by the past two administrations to balance the budget. The current administration took $1.3 billion out of the fund, but now that fund is protected. Really? Going forward, the raiding of the fund will take a 60% majority vote of two key committees whose membership is controlled by the Committee Chairs. Those members are easily replaceable until they get the votes. In addition, the majority of the transportation monies are used for mass transit, which is non-existent in western Maryland; we benefit very little from the transportation fund and that has been the case for decades.
So, even though the majority of Marylanders (in excess of 70%) don't support a gas tax increase, the political forces in Maryland disagree. This will add another $800 million to the $2.3 billion in new taxes per year that Marylanders pay as a result of to the Maryland political types. I recognize how challenging it is run anything of any magnitude today, but there has to be a better way rather than taxing our way through this economic crisis.