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Md gas tax supporters also raided $868 million in transportation funds

Funds not paid pack

March 28, 2013

Ninety-six percent of members of the Maryland House of Delegates, who voted for Governor Martin O’Malley’s 87 percent gas tax hike, also approved hundreds of millions in un-repaid Highway User Fund raids over the last several years.

An analysis of roll call votes (see spreadsheet) for the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA) for 2009, 2010, and 2011 reveals that Governor O’Malley and the General Assembly removed $868 million in highway user revenues from the Transportation Trust Fund.  Keep in mind that during this period, Maryland received $771 million in federal stimulus funds for transportation infrastructure.  However, none of the money went to its intended purpose because of these raids.

The data shows that 76 percent of sitting delegates who voted yes on the gas tax increase also voted for all three fund raids totaling $868 million.  Eight delegates who voted for only one fund raid (2011) were not members of legislature for the other two raids.  Two delegates were excused from the 2009 vote, but voted for the other two raids totaling $564 million.  Three delegates, Nina Harper, Darren Swain, and Alonzo Washington were not members of the House of Delegates until this year.

During floor debate on the gas tax Del. Frank Turner, (D-Howard County) argued in favor of the bill citing poor road bridge maintenance in Maryland and collapses in other states.  However, Turner voted twice to shift $564 million in transportation revenue to the general fund.

The Senate is expected vote on the measure soon as the legislative session ends in less than two weeks.

Analysis of the Senate BRFA roll call votes shows 79 percent of current Senators voted for at least one raid of highway user funds, and 67 percent voted for all three raids for the full $868 million.  Three senators voted for the 2009 and 2010 raids when they were members of the House of Delegates.  Two senators, Bill Ferguson and Ron Young, were not elected to the Senate until 2010. However both men voted to raid $187 million in Highway User Funds.

It appears that the only reason these Maryland legislators did not vote to raid the Transportation Trust Fund is because they weren’t present to cast a vote to do so.

Mark Newgent

Mark Newgent is a contributing editor to Red Maryland, the premiere blog of conservative politics in the Free State, voted one of the best state political blogs by the Washington Post two years in a row. His writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Examiner, National Review Online, and more. Twitter: @MarkNewgent

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Categories: Budget and Finance, Must Read, Transportation
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