Ehrlich disputes reports of plans for 5-cent increase in gasoline tax

January 10, 2003|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said last night that he does not intend to push for an increase in Maryland's gasoline tax this year, though he acknowledges that more money will be needed for transportation during his four-year term.

Ehrlich and a spokesman disputed published reports yesterday suggesting that he will lobby for a tax increase of 5 cents per gallon.

"We have not decided to make it part of our package this year," Ehrlich said in an interview during a reception in his honor at the Walters Art Museum.

"We will not take it off the table," Ehrlich said. "Probably, over the next four years, it will be needed."

Ehrlich said that if the General Assembly were to approve an increase, he would consider it.

During the gubernatorial campaign and since his election, Ehrlich has consistently ruled out increasing all but the gasoline tax, saying he would be open to such a move if the revenues were dedicated to transportation projects.

In an interview earlier this week, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said a gas tax increase is the most likely revenue source for Ehrlich and lawmakers to help produce balanced budgets over the next four years.

Miller said he does not believe there will be an increase this year, but "we are going to need a gas tax increase before his tenure is up."

Miller said there is no support for sales or income tax increases.

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