Cumberland Times-News

January 26, 2013

Bad timing

Increasing Md. gas tax will only kill any recovery

Cumberland Times-News

— A proposed gas tax increase in Maryland is again on the table in Annapolis. When Gov. Martin O’Malley proposed the tax hike in 2012, we argued that, from the economy’s standpoint, the timing was wrong. We make that same argument today.

While there may be some areas of Maryland that are finally pulling out of the recession, Western Maryland is not one of those. Many local businesses are struggling and many local residents remain out of work.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller told reporters Wednesday he plans a proposal to raise about $300,000 annually via a gas tax increase.

While there is no argument that Maryland highways and transportation projects need more funding, increasing the gas tax before the economy is on firmer footing is wrong thinking. It also increases what many consider a repressive tax that hits the low- and middle-class harder than it does the wealthy.

Last year Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was on target when he said discussion about a gas tax should wait until the state has fully recovered from the recession.

“The gas tax is a combination of two of the most regressive taxes known, sales tax and gas tax,” Franchot said. “It will weaken, not strengthen, the middle class. It will hurt small businesses.”

Cut spending in other areas if more money is needed for roads and transportation.

O’Malley and Miller will find that most Marylanders apparently do not want a gas tax increase.

A newly-released Gonzalez Research poll shows, statewide, only 26 percent of those polled would favor a 10 cents per gallon increase in Maryland's gas tax rate.

If Miller proceeds with his gas tax increase proposal, we hope Marylanders who oppose the hike will let that opposition be known, loud and  clear.