Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley


If Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley gets his way he might be the last and only person smiling in Maryland.

This week O'Malley said he wants to raise the state's gasoline tax by applying Maryland's 6% sales tax to every gallon of gasoline. His plan would have a 2% per year phasing in of the tax at the wholesale level.

Maryland's state average today is $3.51 per gallon. Baltimore's average is $3.48 and closer to the governor in Annapolis, if he drives around his neighborhood he could see retail prices ranging anywhere from $3.49 to $3.65 per gallon.

Marylanders currently pay combined federal and state taxes of 42 cents per gallon. If the state legislature approves O'Malley's proposal, that 6 percent tax (if gasoline is $3 per gallon amounts to 18 cents (at minimum) per gallon and could be an additional 24 cents per gallon tax if gasoline reaches $4 per gallon or higher. At that point, Marylanders would be paying a combined fuel tax of 66 cents per gallon. That would give them the dubious distinction of having, by far the highest fuel tax in the mid-Atlantic region.

O'Malley said on a radio talk show this week that he realizes it might not be popular. (Ya think?) He said that residents need to think about "what all of us are paying right now in terms of idling in traffic congestion, time away from family, time away from work...that all of that is more expensive in the longer term than making this investment in transportation."

While wholesalers would pay the tax, such a tax would likely be passed along to retailers, and you know where this is going...

The governor says that with federal funding for infrastructure diminishing, the state needs to make up the difference. His new tax would add $600 million each year to the state's funds.

Of course, Maryland's problems are shared elsewhere. But since we're talking about Maryland today, I'd like to offer two quotes from H.L. Mencken,the Baltimore Sun's legendary political commentator and critic. Though he died in 1956, you might find his observations relevant even now...

"Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office." --H. L. Mencken