Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maryland Goes for the Gas Tax!

Congratulations to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for having the courage to go directly for a gas tax increase to keep the state’s transportation trust fund solvent and moving forward!
Technically it’s not an increase in the excise tax but imposition of a 6 percent sales tax, phased in over 3 years.  The recently introduced legislation (SB 971 and HB 1302) also includes a “braking mechanism” to defer increases during gas price spikes and various provisions to increase the integrity of the fund.
The legislation is based on the report of a Blue Ribbon Commission issued last fall.  A couple of provisions in that report (not in the pending legislation) that I found of interest:
·      The Commission recommended that MDOT incorporate a Strategic Framework for Transportation Investment Decisions into its planning process to reinforce the state’s Smart Growth policies.
·      They also devoted considerable space to encouraging innovative financing.  An idea I had not seen before is the proposal to develop a Value Capture Analysis system that would be added to the department’s project prioritization scheme.
At any rate, Maryland DOT and state government have done, as I always expect, a first-rate job in putting this proposal together.  Good luck Maryland!

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