ANNAPOLIS — Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, referring to the proposed 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, said: "Those who want it are calling it a 'jobs bill' -- a bill to give local government back some of its lost state aid -- and 'a jumpstart for the state's lagging economy.' Indeed, they're calling it everything but what it is -- a tax increasethat will make Maryland's gas tax the fourth-highest in the nation."
The new gas tax would be 23.5 cents a gallon. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island at 26 cents and Nebraska at 23.8 cents per gallon are higher.
Matthews said that no matter what they call it, he's against the proposed increase.
"I'm against it in whatever form it comes: a flat 5 cents-per-gallon increase or the sales tax on the pump price, which would increase gas tax revenues automatically as the pump price rose and which would constitute a tax on a tax because existing federal and state gas taxes are included in the pump price."
He noted that with Delaware's gas tax at 19 cents a gallon and gas taxes in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Pennsylvania at 18 cents, 17.7 cents and 12 cents respectively, "it's a safe bet that many a Marylanderliving close to the state's borders will drive across the state lineto get their gas in Pennsylvania, where gas is already 6 cents a gallon cheaper."
Matthews said county executives from Baltimore, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties have lined up to support the bill as a way to offset some part of the nearly $200 million in cuts to state aid. It is likely that some portion of the gas taxrevenues will be distributed to the counties to help them pay for services.
Many businesses, especially those concerned with construction, have voiced support of the tax.
"Only the people oppose the tax hike," Matthews said. "Four out of five AAA members oppose the tax. I have been overwhelmed with calls from people who oppose the gas tax hike."
The 5-cent increase would raise $625 million over the next five years and enable the state to claim $1.1 billion in federal transportation money. However, without it, the Schaefer administrationcould proceed with highway projects because federal law permits the states to defer payment of their 20 percent share for up to two years.
ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll willhave an entire legislative district contained within its borders forthe first time since the 1960s, under a redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly Friday.
Carroll legislators praised the plan, saying it gives the county more influence in the legislature. The last two redistrictings -- a process in which political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts -- left Carrollfragmented.
"I'm very happy, particularly when you have counties like Baltimore and Howard split into many districts," said Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll. "We're in an extremely favorable position. It's a big win for us."
The plan introduced by the governor became law automatically because no alternate plan was enacted or changes approved by the 45th day of the session. Legislators expect the plan will be challenged in court by Baltimore County lawmakers, who are unhappy about sharing a number of districts with Baltimore.
The new boundaries will take effect in the 1994 state election, barring legal action. Three delegates and one senator represent each of the state's 47 legislative districts, which have an ideal population of about 102,000.
District 5, with a population of 99,034, will consist of eastern and central Carroll.
District 5 currently includes a portion of western Baltimore County, which means Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines must divide his attention between the two counties.
The two subdistricts now constituting District 5 will be combined. Dixon and Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, now represent District 5A, the lion's share of the county. The third delegate, Democrat Lawrence A. LaMotte, mostly represents Baltimore County residents in District 5B. LaMotte, who lives in Baltimore County, also represents two precincts inthe Eldersburg area.
Under the plan, one senator and one delegatewill represent 24,000 residents in western Carroll, part of District4. The senator also will represent about 75,000 constituents in Frederick County.
Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, currently represents District 4. Republican Del. Donald B. Elliottrepresents western Carroll and Howard in a subdistrict.
The subdistrict under the new plan includes 24,338 Carroll residents and 10,809 Frederick residents.
Howard County will be dropped from District4. The Myers election district, which includes Silver Run and Union Mills, will be switched from District 4 to District 5.
Carroll legislators have argued since last summer that the county should be keptintact with western Maryland districts, rather than fragmented amongBaltimore-area jurisdictions.
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