Maryland has a state sales tax that applies equally to all residents, as well as those who make a purchase in the state. It taxes the incomes of its citizens in exactly the same way in Washington County as it does in Somerset County. You may not like taxes, but there is comfort in knowing that it is universally applied and everyone pays their "fair" share. I understand that some of my tax money pays for services and facilities elsewhere in the state, and likewise, that others may pay for improvements to my particular county.
Why then, are the Maryland Transportation Authority tolls (read: use taxes) on bridges, tunnels and highways throughout the state charged at different rates? What is the rationale for this uneven scheme? Why are rural county residents forced to pay a disproportionately higher use tax while other locales pay less? The Baltimore bridge and tunnel users pay less than half the fare of the rural county users, and the Montgomery County users are taxed at about one fifth the rate of rural counties for the use of the ICC. The urban users in Baltimore and suburban Washington also enjoy abundant alternate routes should they choose to avoid tolls.
Those of us on the rural periphery, at the Potomac, on the bay, and in the Northeast all will pay a disproportionate and manifestly mandatory tariff on the use of Transportation Authority facilities. There are almost no alternative routes in the periphery if citizens want to avoid tolls. We have no choice but to pay.
The result is not only unfair and inequitable but penalizes those on the rural periphery. It is a scheme that divides us as a state and exiles our rural residents behind toll barriers. The MdTA policies on tolls separates those into second class citizens who suffer the double indignity of fewer services at a higher price.
Imagine if the state followed the logic of the MdTA, and increased sales and income taxes only for those of us in the rural parts of the state. Then it would at least have the virtue of being truly consistent.
Kennard WigginsCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun