ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he does not care whether the state raises the tax on gasoline by a percentage or by a flat increase per gallon, just as long as the needed money is raised.
"The primary objective is to get the money to build the roads," Mr. Schaefer said. The statement was in answer to a question at a State House news conference on why he recommended a 5 percent sales tax on the retail price of gasoline instead of an increase in the state's 18.5-cents-a-gallon tax.
"If the legislature feels that the direct tax is better than the sales tax, whatever in the wisdom of the legislature they give us is fine with me," the governor said.
For years, legislators have debated whether to impose an inflation-sensitive tax on motor fuels that would increase as the price of oil increases.
In the past, however, the General Assembly has supported a per-gallon tax, declaring that if an administration needs more money for transit projects it should have to return to the legislature for approval.
"There is no money in the [state's Transportation] Trust Fund," the governor said in defense of his plan to raise $1.5 billion over the next five years. "I have made a proposal. If we can get the same amount of money by a different way, a different tax, I am amenable to that. But I do think it's important.
"If the people of Maryland want to continue to build the roads and bridges, and the mass transit system -- light rail -- they must be willing to pay for it," he said.