Legislators return to Annapolis; gas tax increase being discussed

2013 Legislative Session opened Wednesday

The 2013 legislative session is now officially open -- and already the talk is about how to pay for transportation projects in Maryland.

Some form of a gas tax increase is being considered, but even legislators who support an increase admit it's not a popular idea, and they're probably right.

"I think we have enough taken from us and it's getting ridiculous. I mean the median family income it just isn't even making it anymore," said Robert Montroy of Anne Arundel County, who says his family spends about $75.00 to $90.00 a week on gas.

But lawmakers say the state needs more money for its transportation fund, which finances highway and public transit needs.

"Families also have needs," said Luis Acosta of Anne Arundel County.  "So taking from Peter and giving to Paul; I don't think that it's helping much."

The debate is already brewing even amid the fanfare of the opening of the 2013 session.

"We may have to be very creative when we look at ways in which we can address our transportation issues, but obviously something has to be done at some point," said State Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D-Baltimore City).

"It's my hope that we will have some kind of a revenue source for transportation," said Del. Kumar Barve (D-House Minority Leader).  "It is something that is beginning to harm our economic growth because gridlock is not good for the economy."

Republicans in Annapolis say the majority Democrats should not expect help from them, on any increase in taxes.  "What we need to do is start spending the transportation dollars on the things they were allotted for; if we do that we don't need to raise any taxes," said Del. Anthony O'Donnell (R-House Minority Leader).

And with gas prices still around $3.50 for regular unleaded, some Democrats say they also have reservations about piling on to that.

"Unless there's some compelling reason to do this, at this point no," said Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City).

It is too early to say what a gas tax proposal might look like -- in the past the governor and legislative leaders have attempted to extend the state's sales tax to gasoline.

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