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Lawmakers have moral obligation to mend broken contract with taxpayers.

1:30 PM EDT, March 29, 2013

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I did a double take reading your editorial that excused Maryland lawmakers for raiding $1 billion from the state's transportation trust fund to spend on other programs ("We all benefit from transit, and we should all pay for it" Mar 25). Let's explore the logic further.

Imagine your neighborhood bank loans an individual money to start a small business. That individual changes his mind and instead uses the money to remodel his home. With a straight face, he informs the bank he's not going to repay the first loan, but expects a second one because he's finally getting around to starting that business.

That sums up our ongoing debate in Annapolis over transportation funding. Commuters have been told the taxes and fees they pay on gas, tolls, vehicle registration and more were dedicated to transportation improvements. Turns out, they were not.

Now lawmakers are telling us with a straight face they won't repay everything they've taken and, to add insult to injury, we're going to have to pay 86 percent more in taxes for a tank of gas.

Lawmakers have a moral obligation to mend the contract they broke with taxpayers. They should also show commuters respect by exploring creative, non-tax ideas for transportation funding, such as leveraging private money to invest in our most pressing transportation projects.

Christopher B. Summers

The writer is president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute.

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