ANNAPOLIS — GASOLINE TAX OPPOSED
Most of the Carroll delegation opposes Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposal to raise additional revenue for transportation projects through a gas sales tax, whether it be a flat increase per gallon or a percentage of the total purchase price.
The governor urged legislators to support a 5 percent sales tax on the retail price of gasolinein his State-of-the-State Address. He said the Department of Transportation can't undertake any new projects because of a revenue shortage, noting that the situation could put jeopardize jobs and hinder theeconomy.
The 5 percent sales tax would be in addition to the state's 18.5-cents-per-gallon tax established in 1987. If it is imposed, motoristswill pay an additional 6.5 cents per gallon on gas costing an average $1.30 per gallon.
At a press conference Monday, the governor said he also would consider a direct tax -- to be added to the 18.5 cents already levied -- rather than a percentage sales tax to increase revenue. A direct tax would not be subject to fluctuations in retail prices.
But most Carroll legislators say the gas tax should not be increased at all this year because residents are already being stung by the downturn in the economy.
"If you don't have the money, don'tbuild," said Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, a House Appropriations Committee member. He added that transportation revenue could climb if the war in the Middle East is resolved quickly, the price of oil drops, and consumers purchase more gas.
Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, said he expected the economy to rebound quickly,reducing the need for an extended gas tax.
Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, said he would consider supporting a gas tax increase only if it is "written in stone" that financing would be earmarkedfor construction of the delayed Hampstead bypass.
Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said that a transportation revenue enhancement measure should be considered, but that the type of taxis subject to debate.
Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, and Delegate Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, opposeany increase in gasoline taxes. They said the state should investigate a federal program which could allow Maryland to set up toll roads to raise money for transportation projects.
Elliott said Pennsylvania collects tolls, but as soon as motorists cross the line into Maryland, they face practically no tolls on interstate roads.
NO NEW PLANS FOR I-795
ANNAPOLIS -- Department of Transportation officials have told the House Appropriations Committee that the agency has no plans to extend Interstate 795 to connect with any other roads in Carroll or Pennsylvania.
"I-795 was a last-minute tack-on to the 42,500 miles of the interstate roads program. It's just a spur," said William K. Hellman, chairman of the governor's Transportation Revenue Committee, in response to a question from Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll.
The federal interstate roads program has been concluded, and Dixon said Carroll officials suggested the highway could be extended to address traffic problems.
GRIFFITH AT YOUTH EVENT
ANNAPOLIS -- Former Carroll Commissioner Jeff Griffith and County Youth Service Bureau Director George W. Giese attended a hearing Wednesday sponsored by 17 organizations advocating improved services for children and families.
Griffith, a commissioner from 1982 to 1990, is servingas a consultant to the Maryland Association of Youth Services Bureaus. The agencies develop preventive programs to help youths facing problems at home or at school. Many are at risk of becoming in trouble with the law or substance abuse.
"We spend a ton of money treating and incarcerating people with drug and alcohol problems," said Griffith, who established and worked with a drug prevention group in Carroll. "The percentage spent on prevention is minuscule."
Program directors from non-profit agencies representing the poor, hungry, homeless, abused and other disadvantaged populations requiring government assistance stressed the need to maintain or increase financing levels for programs that are effective, to create new ones to fill voids and to better coordinate services.
The second annual Advocates for Children and Youth's legislative agenda day featured Robert Linowes as keynote speaker. Linowes chaired a committee recommending sweeping reforms in the state's tax system intended to redistribute wealth to poorer jurisdictions and generate more revenue for education.
FOUR BACKING ATV BILL
ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll's four representatives in the House of Delegates have joined forces in support of a bill regulating all-terrain vehicles that Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, has tried to push through for the last four years.