Bentley urges reduction in city street repair aid CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE GOVERNOR

May 26, 1994|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

Rep. Helen Delich Bentley wants to cut one of Baltimore's most lucrative sources of state aid -- the money set aside for street repair and other transportation-related programs.

The Republican candidate for governor said this week that the city should receive a smaller proportion of the money disbursed to local jurisdictions from Maryland's Consolidated Transportation Trust Fund. Under the current formula, Baltimore gets about $152 million annually.

"I think it should be pared down some," Mrs. Bentley said at a debate Monday in response to a question on the local aid formula. "Everybody wants to be taken care of."

Mrs. Bentley declined to say how much she believes should be cut.

Key Kidder, a spokesman for Mrs. Bentley, said she is not ready to offer a detailed proposal. "Maryland is a transportation hub and transportation is integral to development in the state," he said. "What helps Maryland, helps Baltimore."

Presently, 30 percent of the money raised by gasoline taxes, titling taxes and other transportation-related fees goes to local transportation aid. Of that amount, half goes to the city and the rest is divided among the 23 counties.

Washington-area legislators have long complained that the formula is unfair because it reflects neither population nor tax contributions.

City officials adamantly oppose altering the formula. Baltimore doesn't benefit from the network of state-maintained roads that exist elsewhere, and urban roads are generally more expensive to maintain.

An ad hoc General Assembly committee is studying trust fund finances, including the local aid formula, and expects to make recommendations after the election.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has long opposed reducing the city's share of transportation funds, a spokeswoman said.

Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer predicted that any attempt to cut city aid would spark a pitched political battle. "There'd be blood on the floor and that's just a political reality," he said.

So far, Mrs. Bentley is the only gubernatorial candidate who has stated a willingness to cut Baltimore's transportation aid.

However, GOP candidate Del. Ellen Sauerbrey said after the debate she believes the formula should be re-evaluated.

rTC "There's not a simple yes or no answer," she said.

Republican William S. Shepard said he opposes any cut in city aid. At the nonpartisan debate sponsored by the Women's Transportation Seminar, he said that such a cut would only make the city less self-sufficient in the future.

"The challenge for the future is to build up the city of Baltimore," he told about 150 people at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Linthicum Heights.

Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, a Democratic candidate, will take no position until the ad hoc committee acts, said a campaign spokesman.

State Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County, another Democrat, told the debate audience that although she doesn't like the way the local aid formula was developed, she opposes reducing aid to Baltimore.

Two other Democratic candidates, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg and Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, did not respond to questions on the local aid formula placed with their campaign staffs this week.

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