Posted in: Infrastructure,
by Gregg Laskoski on Mar 29, 2013 05:00 AM
When you see the aggressive move Virginia made perhaps it's not terribly surprising to learn now that Maryland's state House has
okayed a proposal that would bump the state’s gasoline tax 4 cents per gallon this July, 8 cents more by July 2015, and an additional 8 cents by July 2016, the Washington Times reports. The new sales tax on gasoline at the wholesale level would bring in around $830 million annually to the transportation coffers.
For motorists, the tax would translate into 13 to 20 cents more per gallon of gasoline at the retail level, a doubling of the current gas tax. Across the border, Virginia has approved a transportation plan that will be funded by upping the general sales tax on nearly every product while eliminating the state’s 17.5-cent per gallon gas tax.
Each of the 50 states have some sort of gasoline tax with the revenue funding around 40% of transportation costs. But many are trying to find different ways to pay for highway upkeep because of falling gas tax revenues. New Hampshire, Michigan and Massachusetts governors have put forth budgets with higher gasoline taxes.
You might be interested to hear what the Baltimore Sun had to say on the subject.
"Opponents of the effort to raise Maryland’s gas tax have thrown around a lot of ridiculous claims in recent weeks, from the argument that the money isn’t really needed (if anything, the projected $600 million-a-year return is not enough to meet Maryland’s future transportation needs) to hand-wringing over local transportation aid that was diverted toward balancing the state budget during the depths of the recession — as if using the money to spare cuts to schools or avoid tax increases wasn’t preferable to pot hole repairs."
"To suggest that spending on public transit is inherently wasteful is not only unfair but inaccurate. Maryland traffic congestion is already ranked among the worst in the nation. How much worse would it be if not for transit? A full bus may take 60 cars off the road, a full rail car 200.
Public transit provides rides for hundreds of thousands of commuters each day. Without that option, the state would have to be build hundreds more miles of roads to accommodate the traffic — adding as much as 71 percent more lane miles in some areas, according to one 1999 report on Maryland’s transit potential.
In a small state where adding, or even widening, roads may cause serious disruption, displace homeowners and cost billions of dollars, paving one’s way out of traffic congestion isn’t always a desirable option. That transit is more fuel efficient, produces less greenhouse gases and is better for the environment ought to factor in that decision, too.
We’d be the first to admit that raising the gas tax isn’t a cure-all for financing the state’s long-term transportation infrastructure demands, particularly as vehicles continue to become more fuel efficient and consumption of gasoline slows and perhaps even drops. But for now, raising the gas tax from its 21-year-old rate — as the House of Delegates agreed to do last week and a majority of the Senate is likely to do soon — is a reasonable step toward meeting Maryland’s most pressing transportation needs in the near-term, including its vital transit lines."
It's hard to argue with that logic. Does an increase in the state's gasoline tax place the burden disproportionately on low-income wage earners?
One would have to admit that when our roads, bridges and highway infrastructure is improved, we all benefit from that whether we own a car or not. We all benefit from the infrastructure that supports commerce and makes it possible for us to get to work and feed our families with food bought from the local grocery store, don't we?
Let us know what you think.