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O'Malley Rolls Out Gas Tax, Highlights Tough Choices

Republicans say governor's tax proposals will hurt the working families he wants to help.

Gov. Martin O'Malley called for legislators to pass a sales tax on gasoline, saying on Wednesday that the decision would be unpopular but much needed.

The governor made his comments in Annapolis during his sixth State of the State speech in which he focused on jobs, taxes and what he called tough choices.

"Asking our fellow citizens to do more will not be popular," O'Malley said. "But without anger, fear or meanness, let’s ask one another: how much less education do we think would be good for our children’s future? How much less education do we want? How much less public safety? How many fewer jobs?  There are costs, and there are values."

Republicans in the General Assembly criticized O'Malley for policies they said will hurt the same middle class working families the governor said he wants to help.

O'Malley described the state of Maryland as strong in his nearly 33-minute address to legislators gathered in the House of Delegates chamber Wednesday.

But at the same time he touted the achievements of his administration over the last six years, O'Malley said that more needs to be done.

O'Malley briefly touched on the gas tax—the most anticipated portion of his message. The governor said a bill would be filed in the next couple days.

"With a growing population and aging infrastructure, we might soon pay an even steeper price," said O'Malley. "Bridges are not like trees. They do not grow broader and stronger with age."

O'Malley's plan calls for phased-in elimination of the 6 percent sales tax exemption on gasoline.

At current prices, opponents estimate that the change would add 18 cents per gallon to the 23 cents in state gas taxes.

The additional revenue would create "7,500 new jobs building needed roads, bridges, and public transit" in Maryland, said O'Malley.

"Now look, I know that every family is still feeling the hurt of this recession," said O'Malley. "The people I serve are the people you serve. I know this is a very, very difficult ask. But nobody else is going to do this for us except for us."

Seeking to increase transportation funding for construction and repair projects that would create jobs, O'Malley intends to submit a bill repealing the sales tax exemption on a gallon of gasoline—phasing it out by 2 percent each year unless the price of gas spikes.

"It's going to be an extremely tough sell," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has advised O'Malley to meet with delegations and various elected officials if he hopes to see the tax increased at all in these difficult times.

Aware that legislators are wary of governors transferring money from the Transportation Trust Fund in order to balance the budget, O'Malley said he would like to safeguard future investments in the fund.

"My understanding is the governor is very receptive to people wanting to protect those funds," said Donald Fry, a former state senator and president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. "There will be some sort of legally enforceable way to ensure the money in the transportation fund is used for transportation purposes."

Fry is also a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, which recommended a state constitutional amendment, or "firewall,"to keep those funds from being used for other purposes.

Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin said the so-called "lock box" was a gimmick.

"There are all kinds of gimmicks to get at people's money," said Pipkin, an upper Eastern Shore Republican. "The gas tax is one of the most impactful taxes and working families would have already paid."

"On one hand (O'Malley) talks jobs and on the other hand he kills jobs with higher taxes," he said.

Pipkin said most of the transportation money has gone to fund transit projects that only three percent of state residents use.

"Before we have a discussion about raising taxes we should examine how government spends the money," said Pipkin.

During his speech, O'Malley told legislators he has taken a balanced approach to managing the state's finances during the recession, including making nearly "$800 million in cuts and spending reductions in the current budget. Including those reductions, cuts in state spending total nearly $7.5 billion since O'Malley took office, the governor said.

Critics said those numbers are misleading.

"He's misguiding the public with those words and words mean a lot," said Del. Sue Aumann, a Baltimore County Republican and member of the House Appropriations Committee. "Our budget every year has gone up $1 billion and we have a perpetual deficit of $1 billion."

"The bank of citizens is running dry," Aumann said.

Capital News Service reporters Dave Nyczepir and Mali Krantz contributed to this story.

Marty Warren February 07, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Paul, I think the people of Arizona MAY not see the progress in the deportations
Paul Amirault February 07, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Marty, my point was that Congress has appropriated ICE enough money to deport about 400,000 "illegals" per year. Obama is doing that and it is much more than any other President. So comments regarding his warm heart toward "illegals" made by Frank & John appear to be false and are intended to propagate an Obama's soft on "illegals" agenda.
Paul Amirault February 07, 2012 at 10:00 PM
http://multiamerican.scpr.org/2011/10/ice-announces-another-record-year-for-deportations/ Deportation link
Marty Warren February 07, 2012 at 10:05 PM
You are incredibly accurate with your statistics so far, so I am assuming you are factually correct again about Obama deporting more illegal aliens than any other president, My concern is, people could be misled into believing the problem is getting better not worse. You see, if Obama is deporting more than any other president, than he must be solving the problem, but he isn't. I'm sure you'll agree, The problem is getting much worse, even though Obama is deporting more than onyone else.
Paul Amirault February 07, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Thank you. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2011/02/01/unauthorized-immigrant-population-brnational-and-state-trends-2010/ The Pew Research Center is a recognized non-partisan research organization. The chart above shows that illegal immigration has flattened over the last several years and not gotten worse. IMO, the reason is simply economic. Most, but obviously not all, immigrate here for simply economic reasons, both legally and illegally. The illegals tend to find the jobs not wanted by our citizens at the wages being offered by business. Those are hospitality, landscaping and construction. The legal immigrants take the highly professional jobs where the compete against less qualified citizens. Which hurts.
Marty Warren February 07, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Paul, Your welcome. Before the financial meltdown, many democrats were saying "The illegals do the jobs we don't want to do". That was true when unemployment was 4.7%. Back then I said "Thats true but eventually, the unemployment rate may go as high as 7%, (Having no idea it would go over 9%). When the uneployment rate goes way up, the illegals will still be here but there will be many Americans who will want to do those jobs. I afraid thats what has happened. The jobs we wouldn't do before, many people would LOVE to do now. IMO
John February 07, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Why is Obama suing Arizona; because Arizona wants to stop the flow of illegals through their state. There was an article in the Sun, telling of an illegal that as been sent back 14 times.
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 12:06 AM
IMO, it is about turf, it has nothing to do with wanting to allow illegals to cross the border. I believe the federal government's position is simple, Arizona does not have the right to control immigration under the law. The logic is once the Feds give up any right under the constitution to the States that will lead to major problems. I have a feeling every President would defend that position.
JustABill February 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Ummm 1ke, I cannot figure out if you are intentionally posting ignorant comments just to get a rise out of people are if you are just plain ignorant about the facts. During the Reagan administration Iraq and Saddam Hussein were considered allies with the United States and the sale of weapons to Iraq was in support of their war against Iran. Not that any of this has anything to do with Owe'Malley's relentless attack on the poor, working, and middle class citizens of Maryland through uncontrolled over taxation.
JustABill February 08, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Paul, The Arizona law does not infringe upon the federal government's laws or their ability to enforce them, it simply provides the state government the power to enforce the already existing federal laws when the federal government chooses to turn a blind eye on those who are blatantly breaking the law. It is funny how democrats love to pick and choose the laws they wish to enforce but have no problem passing more and more redundant laws and regulations. I did not see the Obama administration try to block the passage of a bill here in Maryland last session that would greatly overstep the current federal laws and regulations pertaining to led paint on children's toys. You also did not see any democrats in an uproar when Governor Owe'Malley and the democrat led General Assembly passed a bill making it legal for an illegal immigrant to obtain a Maryland Drivers License or more recently allowing an illegal immigrant to be eligible for tax payer subsidized instate tuition. Both of those laws are in clear violation of the current federal immigration laws and are what have turned Maryland into the sanctuary state that it is. You spout off the stats of how Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any previous President, but you fail to acknowledge the reasons for that are there are more illegal immigrants being caught and held for deportation by Republican led boarder states and there are thousands more illegal immigrants crossing the border every day than ever before.
John February 08, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Thanks JustABill!!!!!
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Bill, it is okay to give credit where it is due, I just disagree with you on both issues. I have no agenda I just try to look at the facts. Immigration is a constitutinal right established with the federal government, not the states. That is just a fact. I don't spout off anything, I state a simple fact. The agency responsible for deportation is ICE which is a federal agency. Hyperbole and personal attacks don't change facts. Regarding illegals currently crossing the border you state an opinion without facts to support it. You obviously disregard the links I provided. Different question, why do you not show respect to the Governor by calling him by his actual name? You can disagree with hin all day, but rude is rude.
Jonathan B February 08, 2012 at 02:23 AM
As far as the states enforcing immigration laws which the Federal government is supposedly enforcing, why would it be a problem for the states to have similar laws prohibiting illegal immigration? Murder I would think is also against Federal Laws. So since murder is a Federally enforceable crime, does that mean if murder occurs in your state that the state government can't prosecute the murderer? One other thing, I don't care who's feelings I hurt if I think they are intentionally trying to harm or injure our country and the American citizens. Besides, the only rudeness most politicians recognize is when they get kicked out of office by their constituents.
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 02:32 AM
The Constitution is what the argument is about. The SCOTUS will rule. Immigration issues have been considered a Fed issue before. Murder is generally considered a state rights issue, not a federal one, unless they attempt a civil rights issue. I understand what you don't care about, but rule of law is the rule of law.
JustABill February 08, 2012 at 06:34 AM
Paul, This is my last reply on this article because it has clearly gone way beyond the subject of the actual article. Yes, I did read your responses to the actual topic and just as your responses to all the other topics that have been added to this thread you have brought very little more than liberal rhetoric to the table yet you accuse those who oppose you, myself included of lying or repeating spin from Fox news and such. The few links you have posted to support your opinions or false claims are not facts but simply other opinions or articles from ultra liberal sources so they hold less water than a coffee filter. You say you have no agenda when all one has to do is look at your posts in this thread along with your history of posts and they can clearly deduce you have an extreme left liberal agenda that borders on socialist. All the liberal spin in the world cannot avoid the fact that this gas tax hike hurts the very same poor, working, and middle class citizens of Maryland that Democrats portray themselves to be working for but it is blatantly obvious that simply is not the reality. If you want to debate the actual issue feel free to have at it but if you wish to perpetuate the fallacious rhetoric that has nothing to do with the real issue then please just save it for another time.
Jonathan B February 08, 2012 at 08:54 AM
JustABill, I applaud your sentiments. You have hit the nail right on the head with many of the thoughts you have expressed. You are clear and concise in your evaluation of certain agendas expressed on this website. I forget the actual quotation, but there is a quotation which says something to the effect about certain people being so blind because they refuse to see the truth in front of them.
Marty Warren February 08, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Paul, We are a country built on Laws and Obama is refusing to enforce the federal laws on the Arizona Border. A pefect example are the sanctuary cities and the Catholic schools churches and charities. If the catholics don't pay for and provide birth control, including "The Morning After Pill" they will lose federal funding but the sanctuary cities DON'T lose federal funding. The law is the law but, IMO, its Obama who picks and chooses which laws to enforce, follow and ignore
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Marty, we agree to disagree. And I won't start a thread about Presidents picking which laws to obey and which laws to violate. Have a good day.
Reds February 08, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Well said. PA is full of liberal rhetoric.
Reds February 08, 2012 at 03:18 PM
You can't disagree that Obama picks and chooses the laws that he desires to follows because it can be proven dozens of times over that he does precisely that. In another topic you have already stated your opinion that our government is stupid. Perhaps you follow Supreme Court Judge Ginsberg's opinion that the United States Constitution is a flawed document and therefore Democrats have the right to proceed as they see fit.
Mike Rutledge February 08, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I absoutely agree, Ken! Bringing back Governor Ehrlich would be great! It was SO much better then!
Mike Rutledge February 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Agree!
Mike Rutledge February 08, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I would venture to say, most of the folks that agree with O'mallys tax & spend craziness are all sucking off the teat of the government. They do not want to give up whats being handed to the for free.....
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Frank, that sword has 2 edges I believe.
Jonathan B February 08, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Paul, I agree with you about the two edged sword. You have every right to your opinion and beliefs and opinions. Obviously no one is going to agree with any and all opinions posted on here completely. As long as the disagreements don't reach the level of personal insults, all should be cool. I will sat that at times I can become very passionate when I feel that people are so Bullheaded that they refuse to admit when they are shown clear evidence that they may be wrong and yet try to obfuscate the truth with clever BS replies.
Paul Amirault February 08, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Frank, we will agree. I have seen postings on both sides of issues that are crazy and simply intended to annoy because of the anonymity provided by the Internet. Discussion of issues and facts benefits us all.
Marty Warren February 08, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Paul, Have a good day also
Tom Fitzpatrick February 08, 2012 at 11:35 PM
If this weren't in the news, and the price of gas went up $,08 tomorrow, you probably wouldn't even notice! I doubt that most of the people yelling on this thread could tell you what they paid for gas the last time they filled up.
Reds February 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Spoken like a typical liberal defender and apologist for Martin O'Malley. Liberals are out of touch as always. I know what I pay for gas every time I pull up to the pump as do all of my family and friends. O'Malley and the A-Clowns in Annapolis are in for rude awakening if they think they can shove his gas tax down our throats,
Craig January 31, 2013 at 03:43 AM
@Tom Barnes - You sir need to rip the scales from your eyes. Quick question, and answer it honestly: would you take the economy, both national and local, back in 2006 or now? Or how about 2002, when we were coming out of a (much milder) recession? I am no Bush fan... far from it. But DO NOT LIE - you would take 10 years ago in a heartbeat. With Ehrlich in power, we had a certain energy in this state. Yes, he still had to contend with Dems, but at leat the power sharing was good. NOW WE HAVE GONE OFF THE DEEP END!

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