Thursday, October 27, 2011

State Looks to Solve Budget Woes on Backs of Motorists

Faced with yet another looming budget shortfall, the state of Maryland believes it has found a panacea which will solve all its money problems: tax motorists.

The state legislature is set to consider increasing the state's gas tax by 15 cents per gallon in (a 63.8% increase over the current rate of 23.5 cents per gallon).  In addition to a gas tax hike, the proposal would include increasing the vehicle registration fees by 50%, increasing the titling fees from 6% to 6.5%, and doubling the cost of vehicle emissions inspections.

State Senate President Mike Miller has made clear his own intention to ram though a gas tax hike regardless of any opposition, "There's going to be a gas tax." Miller told the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in blunt terms, "It is going to have to get done now."

Supporters of the proposal stated that the revenue is needed, and that it is necessary to shore up the Transportation Trust Fund in order to improve and maintain our transportation infrastructure.  Critics claimed that the state has been raiding the Transportation Trust Fund for years in order to support non-transportation projects.

These increase come after the state decided to substantially raise most tolls in the state, with the new rates going into effect November 1.  As an example, the cash toll rate for the Bay Bridge will be rising from $2.50 to $4, a 60% increase.  The toll at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95) and Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40) will increase from $.80 to $1.50, an 87.5% increase.