Maryland House passes gas tax after contentious debate

Local,Maryland,Transportation,Andy Brownfield,Metro and Traffic

ANNAPOLIS -- Marylanders would pay about 4 cents more per gallon under a contentious transportation plan passed by the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday.

The House passed the plan -- which includes the gradual phasing in of a wholesale gas tax and tying the state's 23.5 cent per gallon excise tax to inflation -- with a 78-56 vote. It now goes to the Senate, where it has the support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's and Calvert counties.

The plan would raise $600 million annually by the time it was fully phased in by 2016. That money would be used for transportation projects, such as the proposed Red and Purple light rail lines and the Corridor Cities Transitway. The bill does not specify what projects the money must be used on, so opponents worry that it would be spent mostly on mass transit instead of roads and bridges.

The Transportation Trust Fund only has enough cash to maintain current infrastructure and is slated to go bankrupt by 2018.

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