Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 17, 2013

House rejects highway funds plan

Amendment would restore $1.1 billion that was used to pay state bills

ANNAPOLIS — During floor debate over the state budget, the Maryland House of Delegates rejected an amendment that would restore $1.1 billion in funds that had been taken from highway user revenues to pay the state’s bills during budget shortfalls since 2003.

Delegate Susan Krebs, R-Carroll, who introduced the amendment, argued Wednesday that the state had an obligation to restore these highway revenues before asking motorists to pay additional tolls and gas taxes. The state has historically shared a portion of its transportation revenue, highway user funds, with local governments to pay for road projects.

“We need to pay it back before we ask our motorists for another penny,” Krebs said.

Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-Talbot, agreed.

“The money for the roads has already been paid, and now that it was taken, citizens should not be asked to pay again,” she said.

Haddaway-Riccio said that her constituents feel burdened by the recent increases in bridge tolls and gas prices. She insisted that transportation funds should be spent exclusively on transportation projects, and argued that the redirection of those funds was illegitimate.

“Maybe we should change the name of the Transportation Trust Fund, because if we are not going to use the money for transportation, it’s disingenuous to call it that,” Haddaway-Riccio said.

Democratic delegates contested this analysis, saying that the taking of highway user revenues really amounted to a reduction in state grants for local roads. They argued that reducing local aid was appropriate, given the difficult economic conditions.

St. Mary’s County Democrat John Bohanan Jr. said that Republicans were asking for the impossible.

“This is a billion dollars that we frankly do not have,” he said. “We do not have enough money in the Transportation Trust Fund for our state roads. What we’re being asked to do is take care of the county roads, and we cannot afford to do that.”

Delegate Mike McDermott, R-Wicomico and Worcester, replied by saying that counties and cities were also suffering from the economic downturn, and he argued that these local governments would have to make painful sacrifices if their state transportation funding was not restored.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration’s position is that the state does not owe any money to the transportation trust fund, since it has repaid more than $500 million that was taken from the fund during the years when the governor declared a fiscal emergency. Highway user revenues are part of the trust fund but are kept in a separate account, and the O’Malley administration argues that the money removed from that account is not a debt.

Krebs condemned the O’Malley administration’s position, arguing that it was hard to justify taking a billion dollars with no intention of returning it.

“I understand why the state spent that money during a fiscal emergency, but I don’t think anybody agreed that we wouldn’t be paying that money back,” she said.

According to an analysis by the legislature’s staff (page 31), $245 million of the $1.1 billion transferred out of the Highway Users Revenues to the general fund was removed during the administration of Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich. None of that money was replaced, nor was the $868 million taken during the O’Malley administration.

Text Only
Local News
  • Overturned tanker upsets Oakland Overturned tanker upsets Oakland

    OAKLAND — Two large commercial wreckers were being used at mid-afternoon Wednesday to upright a tanker full of liquid propane that overturned several hours earlier in downtown Oakland and forced evacuation of the business district.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Park Service opens Canal Classrooms Park Service opens Canal Classrooms

    CUMBERLAND – The National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday for a new program called Canal Classrooms, which will offer students pre-K through fifth grade accredited classwork on the Canal Place grounds.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • CODY EVERSOLE Eversole named 2014 Kelley Award winner

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser High School senior Cody Eversole was named this year’s J. Edward Kelley Award winner during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Potomac State College.
    The award is presented to an outstanding male student-athlete in each year’s senior class.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire

    CUMBERLAND — A South Cumberland home destroyed by fire last July was given a second chance recently after the owner decided he wanted to remain a part of the neighborhood and had his house rebuilt.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • School vaccination requirements change

    April 17, 2014

  • Mineral BOE gives $18K to library

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to give the Keyser-Mineral County Public Library $18,000 for fiscal 2015 and to give the Piedmont library an additional $1,000 out of carryover funds.

    April 16, 2014

  • The Eichhorn family Local family says hosting New York City children in summer is ‘wonderful experience’

    CUMBERLAND — Sonya and Christopher Morgan of Cumberland always planned on a hosting a child through The Fresh Air Fund Volunteer Host Family Program. “Christopher always said once we had kids of our own we were going to do it. When our son turned 6 we said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” said Sonya.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • City, county officials to talk baseball at work session

    CUMBERLAND — During today’s Allegany County Commission work session, a proposal to study the possibility of bringing a professional-level baseball team to the area will be vetted again, this time with participants from the city of Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in West Virginia

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • JIM HINEBAUGH Hinebaugh seeks Garrett County commissioner post

    Jim Hinebaugh recently announced his candidacy for Garrett County commissioner. A Garrett County native and lifelong Republican, Hinebaugh graduated from Southern High School and attended Frostburg State University before entering the U.S. Army via the draft. After serving as an enlisted member, Hinebaugh completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He retired as a colonel/06 in 1995 with almost 29 years of service including eight years overseas.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video