ANNAPOLIS - Maryland lawmakers said Wednesday they couldn't support an increased gasoline tax without guarantees that revenue would be used only to fix the state's bridges and roads.
Nearly $1 billion was taken from Maryland's Transportation Trust Fund to balance the budget between 2003 and 2011, according to the state's Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding.
Some members of the House of Delegates said they had reservations about Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed 6 percent sales tax on gasoline unless the revenue was reserved for transportation spending.
"Absent a constitutional protection that ensures these monies will be protected, do you really think this is adequate protection?" said Del. Herbert McMillan, R-Anne Arundel County. "And there is an issue of trust here, a very deep issue of trust."
Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal includes a measure that allows transportation funds to be used elsewhere in the state's budget in dire circumstances, but that's not enough, officials said.
And asking motorists to bear most of the burden to repair the state's transportation infrastructure "is asking too much, given the huge disparity in how those funds are spent, as well as the consistent raiding of the Transportation Trust Fund to balance the state's budget," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Averella.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said the state has returned all the money that has been borrowed from the trust fund.
"Every penny that has been transferred out of the state trust fund have been temporary transfers, and money has been paid back." - Ben Giles