Higher sales tax on table in Maryland, too

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Photo - (Photo: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)
(Photo: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)
Local,Maryland,Andy Brownfield,Taxes

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said finding funding for transportation projects is one of his priorities for the legislative session that begins Wednesday.

O'Malley said adding a sales tax to gasoline or raising the state's sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to fund transportation could be discussed over the next 90 days. He said he didn't have a preference of what option the General Assembly passes.

His proposal to add a sales tax to gasoline died in last year's General Assembly session.

"For the last 10 or 15 years, we have not been investing what we could or what we should in order to have better transportation in our state. Therefore we have the most congested state in terms of traffic," O'Malley said.

The governor's other priorities include repealing the death penalty and implementing new gun restrictions, he told reporters after the Democrats' annual lunch Tuesday.

The state has no money to start new transportation projects and in five years won't have enough money to maintain its roads and transit, the state's top budget analyst has told lawmakers.

Officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore City have been pushing for a way to pay for projects like the Purple Line and Red Line light-rail systems and, in Montgomery County, the Corridor Cities Transitway bus line planned for the Interstate 270 corridor north of Shady Grove.

Last year's gas tax proposal would have raised the per-gallon price about 7 cents per year for the next three years to save the state's nearly bankrupt transportation trust fund.

Maryland state Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick and Washington counties, wants to authorize local jurisdictions to pass their own gas tax increases if a statewide increase fails to pass the General Assembly.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's and Calvert counties, called Young's proposal "an interesting concept" but said it wouldn't solve all the state's transportation problems.

O'Malley said he prefers a uniform tax increase across the state instead of targeting specific localities.

Rachel Baye contributed to this report.

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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Andy Brownfield

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner