Congratulations to the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative leadership and Governor: you’re on your way to 26!!
If the latest gas tax bill passes, it’ll make at least 26 times you have increased taxes and fees on Maryland’s hardworking families since this Governor took office.
You’ve hit every regressive tax in Maryland: gas, tobacco, and sales--some of them twice.
You only would have been at 25, but you couldn’t help yourselves. In addition to increasing cost of the gas, you slipped in a little noticed $3.50 per vehicle registration surcharge increase (from $13.50 per vehicle to $17.00) on every motor vehicle in the State.
And, you added significantly more uncertainty to the cost to our state’s already horrendously unpredictable and uncertain business climate.
Not exactly what people mean by responsive government.
Now instead of the gas tax increasing a certain amount (so the average working Marylander can budget), you’ve decided to let the comptroller set the rate of the increase according to the annual growth in “the consumer price index for all urban consumers” (CPI-U).
You absolved the legislature of ever having to vote on a gas tax increase again, instead making all future increases automatic.
It’s a bad move for Maryland taxpayers including businesses. Good move for you. But not responsive.
In fact, just the opposite.
You no longer have to explain to your constituents why their gas taxes have increased. There are no more votes, so there is no longer accountability. You can now count on more of our money with less of our consent.
By indexing the gas tax to the CPI-U, you will have created a loophole large enough to drive a convoy of trucks through. The price of gasoline is included in the calculation of the CPI-U. So as the price of gas goes up, more pressure is put on the CPI to increase which in turn increases the gas tax. So Maryland’s citizens and businesses will be hit even harder by gas price increases.
Until you get a grip on out-of-control transportation spending and farebox recovery strategies that don’t work, the need to feed the belly of the beast will continue to grow and you can bet Maryland’s government will continue to spend. And, if you were serious about protecting the transportation trust fund, you would do it through a Constitutional amendment. Surely you know your legislative “lockbox” can easily be raided by any future legislature. That would be a step, at least, in the direction of responsive.
You are in the process of setting dangerous long term tax policy for the State of Maryland. Now, when constituents complain about the high price of gas for decades to come, you have given yourselves the luxury of being able to throw up your hands, blame someone else and walk away.
Good for you, but bad for representative democracy. And not good for the people who will pay your tab or the bill for filling up their gas tanks to get to work.
Ellen R. Sauerbrey is the Chairman of Maryland Business for Responsive Government (MBRG) and the former Minority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates.