House Of Delegates Approves Bill To Help Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund Which Is Facing A Huge Deficit

Opponents say it could lead to increases in tolls.


Delegate Ken Kerr                                               Delegate Kris Fair

Annapolis, Md (KM) The House of Delegates on Monday finalized a bill to transfer $750 million over a ten-year period from the Maryland Transportation Authority to the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund. Supporters say the money is needed to help replenish the fund which is facing a $3 billion shortfall over the next five years. Opponents say it will lead to increased tolls on the state’s roads.

But Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr says tolls are scheduled   to go up in future years despite this bill. “Tolls were reduced by Governor Hogan for purely political reasons some years back. And the Maryland Transit Authority says they cannot continue to operate without an increase in revenues,” he says.

Fellow Delegate Kris Fair agrees. “So tolls were naturally going to rise in 2027 because the debt service to service those roads alone were going to cause them to rise,” he says.

Under this bill, the Maryland Transportation Authority would have to begin annual transfers of $75 million to the Transportation Trust fund beginning on July 1st, 2025.

It’s one of several ways the House is considering to help the state’s ailing transportation finances. In December, Governor Wes Moore proposed a $3.3 billion cut to the state’s six-year spending plan for transportation. One of the projects which is in danger is the widening  US 15 in Frederick.

Lawmakers are also looking at raising the vehicle excise tax from 6% to 6.,5%, and adjusting the vehicle trade-in exemption to apply only when the vehicle is traded in for a zero emissions or hybrid vehicle.

Delegate Kerr says one idea is looking at ways to get owners of electric vehicles to contribute to the repair and maintenance of the roads. “Since they don’t pay the gasoline taxes, find some way to account for them paying their fair share of road use taxes,:” he says

Another proposal being considered by lawmakers has to do with the weight of an  electric vehicle. “They’re  looking at a charge-per-weight of the vehicle,” says Delegate Fair. . “As we know, our electric-based vehicles, our battery-powered vehicles, do have  a tendency to weigh a bit more.”

But Fair hopes any solution which comes about won’t be too burdensome on the owners of electric vehicles, or any other Marylander.

Revenue raised from the gas tax is used to maintain and repair roads in Maryland.

The bill to take $750 million from the Maryland Transportation Authority and give it to the State’s Transportation Trust Fund, which is part of a $1.3 billion package, now goes to the Senate, which has not been very supportive of this proposal.

By Kevin McManus