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End Md.'s highway robbery [Letter]

Executive BranchMartin O'Malley

I'm writing in regard to the article "Local leaders seek restoration of road funds" (Jan. 1). If I'm not mistaken, Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Democratic-controlled state legislature pleaded to the citizens of Maryland that the state transportation fund was gravely depleted and underfunded and pushed through a series of increases in highway user revenue, which included gas tax, toll and registration fee increases.

According to the article, the state historically kept 70 percent of the revenue for building and maintaining its share of highways and roads. Baltimore City and the counties divided the remaining 30 percent among themselves based on road mileage and vehicle registrations.

In 2010, in response to the recession, the state changed the equation to having Maryland keep 71.5 percent of the highway user revenue for building and maintaining its share of the system with 19.3 percent going to the state general fund, Baltimore City receiving 7.5 percent and counties sharing the remaining 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the state expects annual total highway user revenue to be around $1.75 billion. If I do my math, the state Transportation Trust Fund gets around $1.25 billion. The state general fund is expected to get around $337.75 million of this transportation money while Baltimore City gets around $131.25 million. The rest of the counties divide up the remaining amount — around $29.75 million.

Looking at these figures brings several questions to mind. First, Mr. O'Malley and the legislature basically lied to us. If they are siphoning — a better word would be stealing — $337.75 million from the highway user revenue annually and transferring it to the state general fund, why were we being told that the transportation fund was broke and taxes and fees needed to be increased? Secondly, if the purpose of the highway user revenue is to build and repair transportation infrastructure as well as subsidize public transportation, why is $337.75 million (more than twice the amount of money being divided up among all of the counties and the city of Baltimore for their infrastructure needs) diverted away from the fund? My only guess is this money is fraudulently being used to cover the cost of other pet projects and programs the legislature and this governor have initiated in recent years. This is dishonest and borders on the criminal.

I'm requesting that the state legislature and Governor O'Malley reinstate the original highway user revenue formula to its historical levels prior to the recession and make the needed cuts to existing, unneeded programs to make up the $337.75 million they are stealing from the citizens of the state of Maryland.

Randi Hughes, Edgewood

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