Statewide “Coalition To Protect Maryland’s Transportation Funds” forms to support Question 1
A broad-based coalition of organizations representing key business, labor, transit and building industry leaders is coming together in Maryland to urge a vote for Question 1 in this year’s general election, on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
The measure will appear on the ballot thanks to legislation spearheaded by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and then-Delegate (now Senator) Brian Feldman, which passed both houses of the Maryland General Assembly with strong bi-partisan support in the 2013 Session.
“Transportation is a top issue for Washington-area voters, and there is strong bi-partisan support for putting a lockbox in place to make sure that those dollars we collect for transportation improvements are used for that purpose and that purpose only,” said SMTA Acting Chair, Sam Raker. “Simply passing legislation wouldn’t prevent future leaders from dipping into the Transportation Trust Fund, as they’ve done many times in the past, and that’s why we need this.”
Question 1 would amend the Maryland Constitution to require that the funding that is already dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) – including state motor fuel taxes, transit fares, vehicle registration fees and other sources – can only be used for transportation capital and operating expenditures. Future governors or state legislators would not be able to “raid” the TTF once Question 1 goes into effect, unless the governor declares a fiscal emergency and a three-fifths supermajority in both houses specifically approves the transfer.
“This would put a high bar in place and we think it will be effective. It’s not easy to get to a three-fifths vote on any issue where the voters are likely to be strongly opposed, and governors would not want to declare a fiscal emergency lightly for fear of the reaction from bond houses,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Mahlon Anderson, another coalition member. “It’s certainly much better than what we have now, which is no protection at all.”
“After years of declining investment in transportation, we need to do a better job of protecting the Transportation Trust Fund so the people of Maryland can have confidence that their hard-earned tax dollars are being put to good use, to reduce congestion, improve safety and put people to work,” said James Russ, president of the Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association.
“This is a critical issue for all Marylanders as we seek to make our state more economically competitive and create more high-skilled jobs. Investing in our transportation infrastructure has never been more important than it is now, and other states around us are moving forward,” said Maryland Chamber of Commerce President Brien Poffenberger.
“A constitutional lockbox is the only way to make sure the funds we collect from transportation users go to meet their needs. Without adequate funding, transportation options deteriorate and we put at risk the quality of life that contributes to strong property values here in Maryland,” said Joanne Darling, a member of the Maryland Association of REALTORS®, also a coalition member.
The Greater Baltimore Committee’s President, Donald Fry, agreed.
“There is not one corner of this state that isn’t facing real challenges with transportation, whether it’s traffic congestion, or safety, or the need for better transit access, and the investments we make today will pay off for years to come,” Fry said.
Coalition members are urging all Marylanders to vote for Question 1.
Members of the Coalition include:
- AAA Mid-Atlantic
- Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
- Corridor Cities Transitway Coalition
- Dorchester Chamber of Commerce
- Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce
- Garret County Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Baltimore Committee
- Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Washington Board of Trade
- Maryland Building Industry Association
- Maryland Association of Realtors
- Maryland Chamber of Commerce
- Maryland Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America
- Maryland Motorcoach Association
- Maryland Motor Truck Association, Inc.
- Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association
- Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
- Purple Line Now
- Red Line Now
- Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance
- Talbot Chamber of Commerce
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
- Vehicles for Change
For more information, visit www.VoteForMD1.com.
Source: Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Transportation Fund