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Friday, October 31 2014 @ 10:34 AM UTC

Put a lock on transportation funds or put a lock on general funds?

Biking in MarylandB' Spokes: I would like to point out many of the fees that go into the transportation trust fund are tax free so support for ancillary services such as police, fire and other first responders services for motorists that are paid from the general fund are not paid for by motorists even though servicing the state's annual average of 97,023 auto crashes takes up a heck of a lot of resources paid for by the general fund.

Over simplified, part of the problem is when the state puts the wrong emphasis on just building fast roads for cars the increase in crashes causes an increase spending from the general fund. And the reverse is also true, put the emphasis on safe streets for all users and smooth travel for cars and there is less demand from the general fund for ancillary services of our roads.

So in short the true cost of our roads cannot be defined by pennies on a gallon of gas and a small fee per driver and per motorized vehicle. This is the problem and not the small sloshing back and forth of funds to and fro from the general fund and the transportation trust fund.

I will also not that:
While congestion is an important issue facing the nation, an equally, if not more important issue facing the country and states is how to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements. Most transportation funding at the State and federal level is derived from the gas tax. However, State and federal gas taxes have not been increased since the early 1990s. As a result, the purchasing power of transportation revenues has declined as the price of construction materials has grown dramatically.

Transportation financing in Maryland was partially addressed during the 2007 special session. A portion of the sales tax was dedicated to transportation,....
http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/OPA/I/Bumper_Analysis.pdf

So we essentially have it's OK to steal from the general fund but some are offended when it goes the other way??? Really, what's more important, education or more roads?

So now let's get into the article that I am reacting to http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=131915
Maryland Sen. David Brinkley is seeking to amend the state constitution in an effort to protect the transportation trust fund, a pot of money fueled by gas and car titling taxes, as well as fees and other revenue sources. In past years, the state has siphoned dollars from the fund to bolster the general fund, a practice Brinkley said needs to stop.

"The integrity has to be restored to the transportation 'mistrust' fund," the Republican lawmaker said in an interview. "You can't go harvesting dedicated funds to balance the budget."

I would like to ask just how many dedicated funds do we have anyway? Just one? And why does that one rate to be a dedicated fund anyway?

Let's make back to school supplies sales tax exempt but charge a small fee to go to a dedicated educational fund, let's make shoes tax exempt and make a small charge to go into a sidewalk fund. Let's do this for anything and everything that's important, dedicated funds for all! OK that's silly but no more silly then trying to keep a source of revenue that is already raiding the general fund from putting some of it back.


But Brinkley said this is not the time to talk about raising fuel costs.

Sorry this is exactly the time to talk about this: economic conditions since 2008 have partly contributed to recent decreases or no change in VMT.

The "need" for more highways is not what it once was. Just because we still have projects on the books from the time when Maryland’s VMT has outpaced population does not mean they are still a valid "need."

We really need to end this car first mentality! Keep what we have in good repair and what money is left over use for improvements. We can do this now with no increase in taxes. The problems come in when we stress "improvements" over and above all other things, we can do some improvements but how many is enough? Well if what we can afford isn't good enough then get sales tax out of the highway trust fund NOW! And raise taxes on those who want more road improvements. Oh ya, and let's start charging the trust fund for ancillary services while we are at, after all a dedicated fund for all things motoring should pay for all things motoring right?

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