Ehrlich pledges to up local road funds by 25 percent
Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) pledged Friday that he would restore at least 25 percent of the local transportation aid that Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and state lawmakers have diverted in recent years to help balance the state budget.
Ehrlich made the announcement in Ocean City, the site of the annual conference of the Maryland Association of Counties, which both he and O'Malley are attending. Cuts to local "highway user revenues" have been among the largest hits taken by counties as part of state budget cuts.
Ehrlich, who is campaigning to get his old job back, said his pledge would result in an additional $60 million a year for resurfacing and other local road projects.
"I fully recognize the budget crises facing our state, yet I also recognize we will not get our economy moving again with residents traveling on unsafe roads," Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich said he would like to increase spending by more than $60 million a year but said: "We live in the land of the doable. ... We like to speak the truth."
The O'Malley campaign countered by suggesting Ehrlich was being fiscally irresponsible with promises the state cannot afford.
"In recent months, Ehrlich has proposed to increase transportation aid, double the number of charter schools, cut the sales tax by 1 cent, rebuild the Dover bridge, and stop furlough days for state employees, all without offering any insight as to how he would fund any of that through spending cuts or more of his tax increases," said O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell.
O'Malley and lawmakers have made several rounds of cuts to local transportation aid in recent years.
Prior to fiscal year 2010, Maryland local governments received 30 percent of the state's "highway user revenues." That share is down to 8.5 percent this year. According to legislative analysts, that means about $134 million in aid -- $124.5 million of which goes to Baltimore, under a state formula. The counties collectively are slated to share $8 million and municipalities $1.6 million.
August 20, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , John Wagner
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