Economy tanks if gas tax rises

Drivers are finally getting some small relief from dropping gas prices, but we are still in very difficult economic times — witness the 13,500 jobs lost in Maryland between March and May of this year. Motor fuel consumers are still hurting and increasing motor fuel taxes or other highway user fees should not erase any relief that they are currently getting.

The claim is made that an increase in gas tax revenues will create jobs, but the funds raised by a new gas tax are coming from the very same folks that have recently lost their jobs and other Maryland citizens who are struggling just to make ends meet.

We keep hearing that additional transportation revenue is needed to improve infrastructure but transportation funds continue to be drained from the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and transferred to the General Fund and not repaid. Approximately $320 million per year from transportation revenue sources are now spent elsewhere. That equates to 10 cents on our gas tax rate.

Additionally, the trust fund supports two major transit systems that do not come close to supporting their own operating costs through fare box collections resulting in a serious drain on the fund. Motorists pay over 60 percent of the total revenue dedicated to the TTF. That's already more than their fair share!

Before any consideration is given to increasing gas taxes or any other highway user fees, a comprehensive plan needs to be put in place to address these significant issues.

Pete Horrigan, Arnold

The writer is president of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association.

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