Unfortunately there is NO long term Federal plan, nor any concrete State plan when it comes to transportation. The country is in need of hundreds of billions of dollars of repairs to a crumbling infrastructure. In Maryland alone it is estimated at over $7.5 billion in today’s dollars.
The unfortunate thing for Maryland is they had a plan crafted in 1971 with the creation of the Transportation Trust Fund, with billions of dollars at one point, that could be leveraged into bonds to support infrastructure maintenance and expansion. Unfortunately this fund that I now refer to as the Transportation “Lack” of Trust Fund is just that. Since 1984, $1.470 billion dollars has been transferred to the General fund to cover budget shortfalls. Our “trustworthy” politicians promise to pay back the Fund however, to date only $453.2 million has been paid back with over two thirds by-passing the Fund and going directly to MTA and a host of other transportation projects. The idea of a “lock box” for this Fund will be on the November ballot as Question 1. As written, it’ll be harder (but still possible) for funds to be “re-appropriated” for the benefit of balancing the budget through the General fund.
As most Bills we vote on, the public is just given the headlines but there are usually hidden flaws that the public isn’t made aware of, and the “Lock Box” Bill is no different. However, as an advocate of public transportation for the past 15 years with no hidden agenda, I implore each of you to vote “YES” to the Question 1 “Lock Box” Bill. It’s not perfect but it is improved and can be watched over by you the voter, voting out of office any politician that goes against the will of the people to keep it locked!Our State government’s response especially under Gov. O’Malley ($676.3 million and NO payback) is to raise taxes to replenish the fund through increased tag and title fees; increased tolls; increased gas tax (one of the highest in the country), increased ticket costs; sales tax; etc. At the same time, fuel consumption is down due to less driving, better fuel economy, and public transit options while other costs are rising, diminishing the reality of ever paying back or maintaining what the Transportation “Lack” of Trust Fund was intended to provide.
Please let friends, family and business associates know and let’s lock it up!
“This proposed constitutional amendment would require that funds in the State Transportation Trust Fund be used only for transportation purposes and prohibit transfers from the Transportation Trust Fund unless the Governor declares a fiscal emergency by executive order and the General Assembly passes legislation by a supermajority vote approving a different use or a transfer of the funds.”from MarylandReporter.com