Earlier this week Governor O’Malley again proposed increasing the gas tax, which, if enacted, would be his 25th consecutive tax hike. The Governor has already enacted 24 tax, toll, and fee increases that have taken an additional $2.4 billion every year out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses. The Governor’s latest tax increase proposal is yet another regressive tax that hits the state’s most vulnerable the hardest. Maryland already has the highest income, corporate, and other tax rates in the region. If the Governor’s gas tax increase is enacted, Maryland will have the highest gas taxes in the entire region.
The Governor complains that Maryland has crumbling roads and bridges and the worst traffic congestion in the country, but what he doesn’t tell you is that it’s his fault. There has been no comprehensive transportation strategy from the O’Malley administration. Over a billion dollars has been diverted from the Transportation Trust Fund, and the vast majority of the billions of dollars that has been spent on transportation have been wasted on expenses that are completely unrelated to fixing our road problems. Now he wants struggling Maryland families to pay for his mistakes and his lack of leadership.
Over the last 4 years, Governor O’Malley has spent over $1 billion in dedicated transportation funds for things completely unrelated to transportation – even the money left in the transportation budget was also spent in the wrong place. In his 2014 budget, O’Malley proposes to spend $1.1 billion – a whopping 46% of our state capital and operating transportation budget – on public transportation, even though only 8% of us use public transportation to commute.
What we need is a coherent transportation policy that makes roads a priority and realigns spending based on how Marylanders actually travel. We also need the Governor to restore all of the money he has diverted from the Transportation Trust Fund and immediately appoint a competent Secretary of Transportation. The last thing in the world Maryland needs is another tax increase.
Last year Change Maryland was a leader in the fight against the gas tax increase, and successfully led the effort to kill the proposed legislation. An overwhelming majority of Marylanders strongly oppose more tax increases, and particularly oppose an increase in the state’s gas tax. Our 30,000 members are outraged, and we will fight this with everything we’ve got in an effort to stop it again. If they ram this through, this 25th tax increase may very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The taxpayers have had enough and are not going to take it anymore.
Change Maryland, the largest and fastest growing grassroots citizen organization in the state has been critical of the lack of a coherent transportation plan by the O’Malley Administration. They have argued against the raiding of the Transportation Trust Fund, the fact that road improvements have not been a priority for the past six years, and that the Department of Transportation is a rudderless ship that has been without a Secretary for more than 8 months.