Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 21, 2013

A better way

Mass transit users also should bear tax burden

Tacking on an additional tax on jurisdictions that use Maryland’s mass transit systems is the fair way to tackle the state’s transportation funding issues.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller’s proposal to establish a 3 percent sales tax on gas and authorize counties to charge up to five cents per gallon for local projects was the topic of a hearing in Annapolis on Wednesday.

 He also is proposing creation of two regional districts in which officials could raise property taxes to pay for transit improvements.

Any sales tax increase should not be pinned on citizens in rural parts of Maryland, where mass transit is hardly a benefit.

 Instead, we like an idea by Senator George Edwards, who represents Allegany and Garrett and and a portion of Washington County, and David Brinkley of Frederick County, to raise the sales tax from 6 to 6.5 percent in counties where the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates. The sales tax outside that region would remain unchanged.

According to the Frederick News-Post, Brinkley spoke passionately against the Miller proposal Wednesday, bristling at suggestions that mass transit systems significantly help rural communities. “Tell that to Cumberland. The one-Maryland system has failed,” he told his fellow senators.

If the mass transit counties would have a higher sales tax it would help pay for light rail and subway costs and free up other transportation funding for highway projects throughout the state.

There is no arguing that Maryland needs to do something to address its transportation needs. By imposing a higher sales tax in mass transit areas and at the same time shifting other state funding to transportation, a major inroad can be made. Raising the sales tax on every Marylander is not the answer.

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