Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidate Urges Motorists to Vote For Question One

This November, in addition to voting for candidates for the state legislate and for governor, voters will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot question to create an amendment to the state constitution which would limit the legislature's ability to divert money from the Transportation Trust Fund.

Question 1 will be worded on ballots as follows:
Limits the use of Transportation Trust Funds to the payment of principal and interest on transportation bonds and for constructing and maintaining an adequate highway system or any other transportation-related purpose. Also prohibits the transfer of Transportation Trust Funds into the General Fund or a special fund of the State, except for: (1) an allocation or use of highway user revenues for local governments or (2) a transfer of funds to the Maryland Transportation Authority or the Maryland Transportation Authority Fund. Transportation Trust Funds may be used for non-transportation related purposes or transferred to the general fund or a special fund only if the Governor declares a fiscal emergency and the General Assembly approves legislation, by a three fifths vote of both houses, concurring with the use or transfer of the funds.
While the proposed amendment may be imperfect, since it is still possible for funds to be diverted from the Transportation Trust Fund by a 3/4 vote of the legislature and still allows gas taxes and tolls to be used on "any other transportation-related purpose" besides just roads, this still represents a significant strengthening of the protection of transportation funds and is much better than the current situation.  There is currently a very low bar for the legislature to tap transportation funds to address budget shortfalls in other areas, and requiring a 3/5 vote in both houses is a step in the right direction.  The Maryland Drivers Alliance believes motorists should vote for Question 1.

Candidate for Governor Larry Hogan is urging motorists to Vote for Question 1 and outlined his position on transportation funding.

The following is a press release from Hogan for Governor.  
The Maryland Drivers Alliance is not affiliated with any candidate or political party.  The views and opinions expressed in this press release are not necessarily the official position of the Maryland Drivers Alliance.

Larry Hogan vows to protect Maryland Transportation Trust Fund after O’Malley-Brown’s eight years of misuse
ANNAPOLIS, MD – September 20, 2014 – A coalition of businesses, unions, and transportation advocates are urging Maryland voters to pass Question 1 this November, an amendment to the state constitution to protection state transportation funds, making it more difficult for governors to redirect the money to other purposes, according to a story in today’s Baltimore Sun.
Larry Hogan issued the following statement in response:
“I support Question 1 100 percent.  Lt. Gov. Brown is the reason why we have to pass this amendment in the first place.  For the last eight years, he and Governor O’Malley used the Maryland Transportation Trust as their own personal piggybank to balance the state’s budget. 
O’Malley and Brown picked the lock on the Transportation Trust Fund and siphoned off nearly $1 billion in our gas taxes to balance their bloated budget.  Then they passed massive gas and diesel tax hikes only to invest the majority of the money in mass transit projects instead of fixing our crumbling and congested roads and bridges.  Struggling Maryland families and workers are now paying more at the pump to drive on worse roads in heavier traffic.”
Maryland law requires that 30 percent% of the income to the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund be distributed to local counties and municipalities as their share of the highway user revenues. This has not happened in recent years, and the state has a $400 million structural deficit. 
Hogan said, “Under a Hogan administration, the Transportation Trust Fund will be used as it was intended: for roads and highways. It’s not a bike trail fund, and it’s not a light rail fund. Drivers pay the tax every time they fill up at the pump and when they register their car—so drivers need to reap the benefits.” He added, “I’m opposed to the Purple Line—it’s too expensive, ridership is too speculative, and it diverts funds from needed repairs to roads and highways.”
Indeed, Maryland is in the slow lane when it comes to its highways, according to a new report on state road systems. Maryland ranked 39th in overall highway performance and cost-effectiveness and 48th in interstate congestion, said the report by the nonprofit Reason Foundation, which drew data mostly from 2012 for its evaluations.
Meanwhile, another recent story in the Baltimore Sun highlighted the many differences between Larry Hogan and his opponent when it comes to funding transportation projects in the state.
Here is an excerpt:
To Hogan, the state's transportation program is in dire straits and its roads are crumbling because O'Malley, a Democrat, “robbed” the state's transportation trust fund of $1 billion instead of making cuts in the general fund to balance the budget.

“They drained all the money out of transportation for eight years,” Hogan said. That, he contends, is why the administration felt compelled to raise gas taxes.

“We don't think there should have been the need for a gas tax increase in the first place.” …

Hogan vowed a “shift in priorities” if he is elected.

“We're going to focus on building roads, and that's something this administration has not done,” Hogan said. He also promises to immediately restore some $400 million a year in what's known as “highway user revenue”—state aid to local governments to pay for such basic projects as fixing potholes and repaving worn streets. Such aid to the counties was slashed by more than 90 percent during the recession, though some has been restored in recent years.
More on Larry Hogan’s Transportation Plan
- Maryland transit currently uses 57 percent of the available Maryland transportation funding, while highways, which generate the overwhelming percentage of income to the trust fund, only receive 43 percent of the available funds. An alternate source of funding is needed for transit in Maryland. Funds should be allocated according to impact on traffic and needs; the O’Malley-Brown administration’s focus on massive rail projects is not only cost-prohibitive but diverts needed funds from long-overdue repairs to our roads and bridges.     
- Hogan will work to restore the required 30 percent of the highway user revenues that are supposed to go to local counties and municipalities. He has already identified significant savings in the state budget starting with $1.75 billion in potential savings that the O’Malley-Brown administration has ignored.
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CONTACT:    For more information and interviews, contact Adam Dubitsky at M (240) 625-2683 or, or Erin Montgomery at M(443) 858-5403 or


Authority: Hogan-Rutherford Committee to Change Maryland.  John C. Wobensmith, Treasurer