Maryland motorists are going to dread the arrival of July 1 over the next few years. It’s because that is the date the state’s gasoline tax increases will kick in.
On July 1 of this year, the tax will increase by nearly four cents a gallon. Two more increases, on July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, will see the cost of gas increase by eight cents a gallon in both years. That amounts to a whopping increase of 20 cents per gallon over the three-year period.
Already, motorists who live near the Virginia border are indicating they will go across the state line to avoid the higher Maryland gasoline prices. While Maryland’s tax will increase this July 1, Virginia’s will decline the same day. Virginia is scrapping its fuel excise tax, replacing it with a tax on the wholesale price. The upshot is that the cost of gasoline in Virginia will drop by nearly six cents per gallon.
Much of the revenue expected to be gained from the gas tax hike will go to mass transit —but that will be of no help to Maryland’s rural population. As we said in previous editorials, mass transit improvements and repairs should be financed through a user-fee rather than having Marylanders in rural areas sharing in the cost.
Maryland spends only about a third of its transportation money on maintaining highways. Its counties and municipalities already bear much of the burden for road maintenance, and this has been made worse by a steady decrease in funding made available by the state for that purpose.
Nevertheless, a majority of senators and delegates went along with Gov. Martin O’Malley earlier this year and approved the massive tax increase on gasoline. We appreciate the fact that members of the Allegany and Garrett county delegation in Annapolis opposed the increase.
Now is the time for motorists to pay up. Beginning July 1, there will be pain across the state.