Senate panel OKs gas tax, constitutional amendment

March 28, 2013|By Erin Cox | The Baltimore Sun

The proposal to raise Maryland's gas tax by as much as 20 cents per gallon cleared a Senate panel Thursday, sending the plan for a final vote as early as Friday.

The Senate Budget and Taxation approved 9-4 a bill that increases gasoline taxes for the first time in more than 20 years. It would raise an estimated $4.4 billion over six years, cash that would be dedicated to road and transit projects.

The new sales tax on gas, which could rise to 6 percent, would be tied to inflation and is expected to generate more than $660 million for transportation each year. The bill would also increase fares on mass transit.

Without more money, administration officials say, the state will quickly run out of money to do anything but maintenance projects. Gov. Martin O'Malley, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller crafted the legislation. 

Under the plan, Maryland’s 23.5-cents-a-gallon gas tax would rise with inflation. A new 1 percent sales tax on gas would take effect in July, rise to 2 percent in January 2015 and 3 percent six months later.

Separately on Thursday, the budget committee unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that puts tighter controls on how transportation money can be spent. If passed by both chambers, the rules on transportation spending would be placed on the ballot for voter approval.

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