Gas tax is not the answer to Maryland's traffic problems [Letter]

March 19, 2013

In last week's issue of the Laurel Leader it was reported that State Sen. Jim Rosapepe would support Gov. Martin O'Malley's comprehensive transportation proposal, which includes a substantial increase in the gas tax. Big surprise there, folks. Jim Rosapepe never met a tax increase or a government program he didn't slobber over. And he never passes up an opportunity to suck up to Martin O'Malley.

With gasoline prices hovering at the $4 a gallon level, Maryland motorists can ill afford to pony up even more. According to Americans for Prosperity Maryland, Maryland motorists are facing a gas tax increase of more than 60 percent if O'Malley's transportation funding proposal becomes law. What's more, O'Malley's proposal indexes the gas tax to inflation, resulting in automatic gas tax increases without requiring a vote of the General Assembly. How very convenient. It is estimated that this gas tax increase would result in the loss of over 1,200 jobs and $250 million in economic activity. Highway construction projects are historically the politicians' payback of choice to generous campaign donors and politically favored interest groups. Rosapepe calls it "investment." I call it corruption.

Rosapepe is correct when he says Maryland has serious traffic congestion problems. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The reason for our traffic congestion is not, however, as he would have us believe, due to inadequate highway funding, but because our highways are clogged with bureaucrats. Rather than build new highways or expand existing ones, why not furlough all non-essential government employees? This would end highway gridlock in Maryland (and elsewhere) virtually overnight and save the taxpayers a bundle of money.

Before considering tax increases at any level of government, politicians must first and always identify ways in which government expenditures can be reduced. It isn't that difficult, if you have the courage. If given the opportunity, I could balance any government budget without a tax increase in the time it took to read this letter, and I'd enjoy every minute of it.

Robert J. Seyko


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