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AFP Maryland Public Testimony Opposing Senate President Miller's Transportation Plan

February 21, 2013

To: The Honorable Senator Edward Kasemeyer, Chairman Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Nathaniel J. McFadden Vice-Chair, Committee Members

From: Americans for Prosperity Maryland

Subject: Public Testimony – Senate Bill 829

Date: February 20th, 2013

Chairman Kasemeyer and Committee Members,

On behalf of over 42,000 Americans for Prosperity Maryland’s members we come in support with amendments to SB 829 that would amend Maryland’s Constitution prohibiting transfers of taxpayer dollars out of the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).

For years money has been stolen out of the TTF through one time budget transfers to the Maryland General Fund. This budgetary malpractice has contributed to massive reductions to highway spending for the State and individual counties preventing new highway projects and repairs.

Those supporting the current proposal to increase to the state gas tax say this tax hike is necessary to ensure that new highway construction and repair can be funded.

Thus SB 829 has been proposed to regain the full confidence and trust of motorists that the new tax dollars generated from a gas tax increase will be kept in the TTF and not transferred out to the general fund or any other state agency.

Although SB 829 would essentially prevent transfers out of the TTF this bill does absolutely nothing to protect tax dollars generated from motorists from being appropriated to mass transit and other entities within the TTF.

In FY 2013 motorists contributed 49% of the total TTF budget yet the State Highway Administration was only appropriated 30% of the money motorists put in for road construction and repair.   $775 million was handed out to other agencies within the TTF that motorists do not use.

This longstanding practice over the years adds up to billions of dollars of driver generated tax dollars that have been diverted to other pet projects.

Americans for Prosperity Maryland fully agrees with policies that places a “lock box” on dedicated funds. However SB 829 does not guarantee that billions of dollars of future revenue generated by drivers will be spent on highways, nor does it guarantee that future raids would occur.  The push to construct the Purple line and other major expensive mass transit projects cast further doubt that drivers will see their tax dollars be invested into roads.

Even within the proposed legislation to increase the gas tax there is a specific provision allowing gas tax dollars generated in Baltimore City to be spent on school construction instead of roads.

To fully regain the trust and confidence of drivers SB 829 must make additional guarantees to motorists. Each and every penny generated by the gasoline tax and driver related fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles must be dedicated strictly to the construction and repair of Maryland’s highway system.

If SB829 is amended in this way it would accomplish the following.

  1. No need to increase the state gasoline tax or driver related fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  2. Billions of dollars would immediately be available for new highway projects and repairs over the years.
  3. County Government would see their road funding increased.
  4. The “trust” in the Transportation Trust Fund would be restored.

Americans for Prosperity would throw its full support behind SB829 if it is amended in this fashion.

Nick Loffer – Grassroots Director AFP  Maryland

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