Gas tax could comew to vote in Senate

March 29, 2013|By Michael Dresser

The Maryland Senate will take up a proposed increase in the state's gas tax Friday, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller is expected to push it to a final vote before Sunday.

According to Senate staff, Miller will try to bring the transportation revenue bill through preliminary approval and a final vote in a single day. But Miller told senators they might have to work Saturday of Easter weekend -- a not-so-subtle incentive to forestall delay.

The gas tax bill was appoved Thursday by the Budget & Taxation Committee. Because the panel did not amend the House-passed bill, Senate passage without changes would send the bill directly to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who supports the increase.

The bill is expected to pass, but Miller may have to round up 29 of the 47 votes in the Senate if opponents mount a filibuster.

The legislation would raise taxes on gasoline in stages over the next four years -- with a roughly 4-cent increase coming July 1. By the time the increases are fully implemented in 2016, motorists in Maryland will pay about $600 million more in gas taxes than they do now. The increases would continue beyond that because the measure ties the state's 23.5-cent-a-gallon gas excise tax to the Consumer Price Index.

The bill is the result of an agreements reached by O'Malley, Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch to address the depletion of the state's Transportation Trust Fund. Without a revenue increase, the Maryland Department of Transportation is expected to run out of money for anything more than maintenance projects by 2017.

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