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Gas Tax Increase Not A Popular Idea

Earlier this year, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) floated the idea of raising the gas tax to help pay for a lengthy list of transportation needs in Maryland.

A new poll by The Washington Post may provide some insight as to why the plan was not included in the revenue package O'Malley unveiled this fall.

Only 37 percent of Marylanders would support raising the gas tax 10 percent, the poll found, if the money is used for "transportation projects such as building roads, traffic management or public transportation." Sixty percent oppose the idea, while another 3 percent said it would depend on the projects financed.

Only one revenue measure proposed by O'Malley -- increasing the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent -- is less popular, according to the poll. That idea is favored by 29 percent of Marylanders and opposed by 71 percent.

O'Malley is seeking to raise enough revenue to close a looming $1.7 billion budget shortfall and spend an additional $400 million a year on transportation priorities.

Business groups have pushed for raising the gas tax significiantly right away.

But O'Malley's transportation funding plans include only an indexing of the gas tax, meaning the levy -- now 23.5 cents per gallon -- will rise an estimated 0.8 cents per year based on increased in construction costs. O'Malley has proposed generating other revenue for transportation from an increase in the titling tax on vehicles and an increase in the corporate income tax.

By John Wagner  |  October 24, 2007; 6:01 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Look at the headline. The Post editors continue to bury the 20% sales tax increase which these editors support and which is the centerpiece of largest tax increae in Maryland history. The sales tax is a regressive, insidious tax. Forbes Magazine calles O'Malley's plan to raise it, "economic idiocy." Millions of Marylanders, more in the summer, will make a no-brainer decision every week to drive across the 85 mile long border with Delaware, which has no sales tax, to make purchases, or, they will simply purchase over the internet. As a real estate broker, I can tell you that there is not one Marylander who would prefer to pay a 6% commission over a 0% commission. All this to fund a base budget which is 8.5% bigger than the present budget which is balanced through June 30, 2007. The special session is a giant waste of money when we have a regular session starting in January. If O'Malley raises the sales tax, he and the legislators who vote for it will not be reelected. Q.E.D.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | October 24, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I doubt the tax increase will be as much as some numbers I've seen, but if we have to sacrafice anything, the tax should hit gasoline and cigarettes. Those are to areas that MD would not lose any business to neighboring states or DC. Penn/Va/DC all have big taxes on gas and cigarettes already. If anyone goes to Va to buy smokes, they do it already - minimal risk. Delaware remains irrelevant. Good luck.

Posted by: Donny | October 24, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

O'Malley never breathed a word of this during his election campaign. Not a word. Now, ten months after taking office everyone should try Googling "O'Malley tax". There's no less than 883,000 hits! This is the real guy that people voted for. Not that smiling face in the cameras that some found appealing simply because of the (D) after his name.

I honestly don't see how even his supports aren't furious at him (if you're against tax increases-which most seem to be). He was never honest in telling everyone how he intended to pay for his campaign promises-although those of us on the other side knew full well. But, we'll have those "progressives" (the vocal minority) defending him and their twisted view for the need to pay more for everything from gas to toilet paper to new cars and even to the already outrageous DMV fees that they criticized the last Governor for raising in the first place. Great campaign strategy. Say whatever it takes and hope that it all gets lost in the fog later.

This is testament to the fact that you should investigate who it is that you're voting for and check your partisan views at the door of the polling station.

Posted by: BG from PG | October 24, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I don't like to use pejoratives in debates, but Robin, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. If its a no-brainer to go to Delaware for a 6% sales tax, why is it not a no-brainer for the 5% one we have already.

Maryland has a lot of needs and we all need to share in the sacrifice to meet those needs. Now I'm an avowed tax the rich and spend on the poor progressive (who is happy to pay more of my upper income)and a regressive tax like the sales increase is usually bad policy to me. But I am accepting of it, because I know we have a problem and we all need to share in the sacrifice for a solution. O'Malley has worked very hard to balance the pain with the lion share going to those who can afford it, and the rest of us because we're all in this together.

My question is when did paying your fair share of taxes to have a working government meet our shared priorities become not the patriotic thing to support. We need roads, we need healthcare, we need better public and higher education so we need to pay for them now, rather than wait until they become the daily traffic jam, the expensive emergency room visit or the uneducated criminal we need to imprison. Spending now is better than waiting and seeing the Maryland we know and love fall apart around us.

Posted by: RCD | October 24, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

RCD: I guess you're right.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | October 24, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

RCD, you nail some great points. I agree with you on most, I only warn all tax payers, to engage the process as much as possible. Keep your eye on the ball.

Posted by: Donny | October 24, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Look who is on Ways & Means and Budget Committees. These folks are the ones who will hold the hearings and recommend a package to the General Assembly.

In the House:

In the Senate:

Posted by: PG'er | October 24, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The comment by Robin Ficker of Robin Realty above agreeing with RCD is not mine. That person and RCD are afraid to blog in their own names. I am not and never have been. I'm really tired of people who do not stand up for what they believe in. Just like O'Malley never breathed a word of his sales tax hike in his campaign. People are already shopping in Delaware or on the internet. This 20% regressive tax hike will hasten the flow greatly. I'm going to go to Takoma Park Middle
School tonight where O'Malley is supposed to appear and tell him we should CUT the Maryland sales tax. Why don't you misrepresenting and scared bloggers show up too and tell him he is right to hasten his downfall? The day that sales tax vote is taken, we need to start circulating the vote and keep posting and circulating it until November 2010 if we have to put it on every pole in Maryland. It is one thing to talk about working families like O'Malley does, it is another to show contempt for them like this sales tax increase does.

One other thing, County Executive Leggett was the champion of this gas tax hike, the income tax hike and sales tax hike. Let's give him lots of credit too. Just who is he representing? Certainly not the people of Montgomery County and Maryland.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | October 24, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

How do we know that last comment is by the real Robin Ficker?

Posted by: PG'er | October 24, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

RCD, what gives you the liberty to say that I'm not paying my fair share? Or anybody for that matter.

Let's break it down...I pay my Federal, State and local taxes like everyone else. I get NOTHING in terms of Government services apart from using roads and highways and maybe the fact that my garbage isn't rotting in the street. Other than that, I can honestly say that I don't benefit one iota from Goverment services.

I have no kids yet 52% of my property tax goes to public schools. I own two homes. So, perhaps those of you with kids should pay your "fair share". But instead, you get tax breaks. Do you call that "fair", RCD? I'm not complaining about it but I don't mind using it as an example.

The budget is balanced now which means that if there is a "looming deficit" than State agencies must be projected to get increases to their budget. Simply giving them the same amount of money as they got the year before would probably be an easy solution. However, politicians sell this to the electorate as a "budget cut" when it actually is not. Eliminate a few of the more worthless State agencies (and don't tell me there isn't any) and there you have it. Problem solved.

Stop fear mongering about crumbling infrastructure. Before you get any sympathy from me, show me that there's no money for tripS to Ireland by O'Malley to deliver keynote speeches.

Posted by: BG from PG | October 24, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line of the poll - most Marylanders seem to prefer spending cuts to the broad spectrum of tax increases that the Governor is proposing. Perhaps the opinion would change if we waited until the regular session and folks could weigh tax increases against the alterntive program cuts (or in most cases, reduction in growth), perhaps not. But clearly, the Governor doesn't have wide spread public support for his proposals, and this special session isn't what the people want.

Of course, the one thing that most folks want is the solution that Governor Ehrlich tried to get for four years - slots! Perhaps if the Democrats had passed slots in the first, or second, or even third year of the Ehrlich Administration, we wouldn't be facing a "crisis" today (that is, the crisis created by the Democrats passing the Thornton mandate w/o a funding source).

Posted by: MoCo Voter | October 25, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey BG - You get a lot of services from the government!

The federal government gives heaps of your tax money to Haliburton and Blackhawk to keep you safe from terrorism. They listen-in to your phone and e-mail conversations to make sure you're true Americans, they subsidize tobacco farmers so you can smoke, they build walls along the Mexican border so low-wage, dead-end jobs are available for you and they set no child left behind standards so your kids know how poorly they rank with private school kids.

In Maryland, state taxes go to maintain Camden Yards (so the Orioles can spend money on washed-up ballplayers), they can duplicate educational opportunities throughout the University of Maryland system, they can prop-up a dead horse racing industry (that can't survive in a free market, so need corporate welfare.)

So much comes to you because of taxes. To say otherwise is foolish.

Posted by: PG'er | October 25, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse


That's precisely why we shouldn't sit here quietly while O'Malley rams more taxes down our throats.

And that's also why the people on this blog that say, "gee, I'm willing to pay a little more to keep the Government services going" are complete fools.

You don't extend more credit to someone that can't pay the bills that they've already got. Ask any subprime lending institution how well that works.

Posted by: BG from PG | October 25, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Will the Washington Post address why Mr. O'Malley is proposing more than $500 million in new spending when he claims to have a $2 billion budget? Talk about shady stuff!

I am against a renter's tax (expansion of sales to property mgmt services), gas tax (10 cents plus 1 cent a year..ouch!!!), sales tax ($212 for an average family), fitness club tax, and tobacco tax to fund health care.

Our Governor is either stupid or he just hates the middle class.

Posted by: James | October 25, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for posting here, MD GOP. President Bush is proud of your activities!

Posted by: Donny | October 29, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

RCD is full of patriotic slogans - what's really missing is a cool-headed analysis of pros and cons - something economists could provide. Raising taxes has been shown thru out the history of mankind as failure. There are many Nobel Price economy winners (Hayek is one, for example) who've shown that monies spend by private sector are worth considerably more than by the government. Unfortunately the tax+spenders of o'Malley's/RCD's type don't want to have it in their push for more government power!

Posted by: milo | December 23, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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