Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and County Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Mid-county) today testified in Annapolis in support of a bill that would raise the state’s gas tax to pay for transportation projects.
Both argued that the Washington suburbs of Montgomery County are an economic engine that directly affects the prosperity of the entire state. They said if projects such as the Purple Line light rail don’t get state money to match potential federal funding, that engine would suffer from traffic and gridlock.
“I know what some of you may bbe thinking — ‘please, feel free to invest your own money on State transportation projects. Your transit and failed intersection needs aren’t our problem,’” read Leggett’s testimony before the State Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. “I would argue that they are, particularly if the Washington region is going to continue to be depended upon to be a key economic engine and creator of jobs for the state. All of our new master plans require transportation investments. These plans, and the jobs they will create, can not move forward without this investment, which the state must partner in.”
The bill, proposed by Senate President Thomas Mike V. Miller (D-Calvert County), would raise the state’s gas tax for the first time in 21 years and includes a provision that would allow individual counties to collect up to 5 cents per gallon for local projects.
Opponents are against raising the tax because of already high gas prices and the because some don’t see the consequent transportation funding as benefitting their districts.
Navarro testified that the 3 percent gas tax hike proposed in Miller’s bill would not be sufficient to pay for all of the county’s transportation needs.
“We would support a fully phased in 6 percent sales tax on gasoline or a 1-cent increase on the state sales tax, which would both raise a more substantial level of revenue,” Navarro said.