The president of the Maryland Senate joined the chorus of people disappointed that no transportation funding plan was included in the governor’s legislative package, telling reporters Tuesday that Gov. Martin O’Malley needed to act.
“It’s his job to lead,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach. “It’s an economic development issue. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Maryland would not fully recover from the recesssion until its transportation funding issues were resolved, Miller said.
A state Blue Ribbon Commission recommended in 2011 that Maryland raise an additional $870 million per year for transportation projects.
O’Malley (D) said last week that he and Miller were discussing the issue, which many see as the top priority for lawmakers this year, and that he believed Miller had some ideas.
O’Malley said he’d offered his own ideas last year, including a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline or a one-penny increase in the overall sales tax.
Miller said Tuesday that a comprehensive plan was needed, but that it would be too much for him to do alone.
The solution needs to include a mechanism for funding transit projects, such the proposed Purple Line and Red Line light-rail lines, as well as grant local jurisdictions taxing authority to finance local projects, Miller said. There also should be a road-user fee that would have drivers pay for road improvements, he said.
“The sales tax is not tied into roads,” Miller said.
The discussion about transportation funding is ongoing, and no doors have been closed, said Raquel Guillory, O’Malley’s spokeswoman, adding that the governor already has offered his ideas on the subject.