Md. House GOP attacks transportation revenue hikes

Maryland House Republicans attack gas tax talk; Miller says they are 'Neanderthals'

Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Maryland House Republicans on Tuesday attacked the Senate president's proposals to raise new transportation revenue and to protect it from raids for other budget needs, saying the state needs better management, not more taxes. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller responded: "These people are Neanderthals in terms of their thinking."

The GOP has been particularly critical of raising taxes on gasoline, which affects all drivers, and allocating a large portion of the proceeds to mass transit. Delegate Herb McMillan, R-Anne Arundel, cited state statistics that show 83 percent of state residents drive or carpool to work, while only about 9 percent use mass transit.

"Until we realign our Transportation Trust Fund spending with the way that Marylanders travel, we shouldn't even be discussing a gas tax increase," McMillan said.

Republicans have criticized the Democrat-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley for adding to a large backlog in transportation projects by shifting money away from transportation to fill other budget holes during the recession and its aftermath. Democrats say much of the money has been paid back, however, Republicans note that huge amounts of local highway money have not been restored.

Part of the package Miller has proposed includes a constitutional amendment that would only allow a governor to divert money set aside for transportation during an emergency. And it would require a three-fifths vote by the Legislature to allow it. But Republicans say that would not have prevented what has happened in recent years.

"The Senate president's bill does not protect the trust fund," said Delegate Susan Krebs, R-Carroll. "It merely codifies the continued raids that we have today."

Miller, for his part, said House Republicans were simply being obstructionists. He said their districts have serious transportation needs that they want to have addressed.

"They want it in their hearts of hearts," Miller said. "Every one of them wants revenues, and every one of them knows we have to pay for it, but they don't have the political courage, guts or intestinal fortitude to vote for it. It's as simple as that."

Delegate Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, compared the talks about raising additional revenue to children asking their parents for more money.

"If you have children that keep spending their allowance and then coming back and asking for lunch money when that's what it was for, sooner or later you have to say 'we cannot continue to do that,'" Serafini said.

Miller has proposed a variety of options to raise new revenue. One would allow county governments to collect up to 5 cents per gallon on gas sales for local transportation projects. That would be on top of the state's 23.5-cents-per-gallon tax, which hasn't been raised since 1992.

Miller also has pitched a separate 3 percent sales tax on gasoline. He also has recommended studying the idea of selling or leasing the Intercounty Connector. Another proposal would allow local transit authorities that could raise revenue for mass transit projects.

The Senate president has been urging O'Malley to take charge of a proposal of his own, but so far the governor has not. O'Malley noted the need to tackle the challenging and unpopular issue in his State of the State speech earlier this month, but he did not include specific proposals of his own.

O'Malley proposed phasing in a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline last year, but the measure languished.

"I know the governor wants to do something, but he wants to get a consensus," Miller said. "He wants the House and the Senate and himself to agree on something before he moves forward, so that he won't have the failure like he did last year where he threw out an idea and didn't work to make it happen."

Staffers for O'Malley, Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, have been meeting to discuss ideas. But Miller didn't sound upbeat on Tuesday.

"No. Not in the least bit," Miller said, when asked whether he was optimistic a deal could be reached this session. "I mean, I hope and pray, but it's a tough sell."

View Comments (14)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • NATO flotilla enters Black Sea for training amid Ukraine crisis

    A NATO flotilla arrived in the Black Sea on Wednesday to train with ships from the Bulgarian, Romanian and Turkish navies, the U.S.-led Western alliance said. Tensions in the Black Sea region are running high because of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia's annexation of the…

    Reuters
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • View

    Turkish jetliner skids off on runway (9 photos)

    A Turkish Airlines jet landing in dense fog in the Nepalese capital Wednesday skidded off a slippery runway but there were no serious injuries, officials said. Officials at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan International Airport said the plane with 238 people on board was coming from Istanbul when the…

    Yahoo News
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

    Reuters
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • Afghan forces kill dozens of militants in hostage rescue operation

    By Sarwar Amani KANDAHAR (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have killed dozens of militants in a military operation aimed at freeing a group of civilian hostages in southern Afghanistan, an army official said on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses said most passengers belonged to the ethnic Hazara minority, a…

    Reuters
  • View

    Hello kitty and kitty and lots more kitties on Japanese island where cats rule (17 photos)

    An army of feral cats rules a remote island in southern Japan, curling up in abandoned houses or strutting about in a fishing village that is overrun with felines outnumbering humans six to one. Originally introduced to the mile-long island of Aoshima to deal with mice that plagued fishermen's…

    Yahoo News
  • Father says no proof his son is 'Jihadi John'

    The father of "Jihadi John" said in an interview published Wednesday that there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State executioner, adding there were a number of "false rumours" circulating. "There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips…

    AFP
  • New Honda Civic breaks Nürburgring record

    The new Honda Civic Type R hot hatchback, officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on Wednesday, is now also officially the world's fastest front-wheel-drive car. As well as taking the wraps off the eagerly awaited 306bhp, 167mph (269km/h) car, Honda also revealed that in testing it had posted…

    AFP Relax News