Governor Martin O'Malley delivered his State of the State address this afternoon in Annapolis. In his speech, the governor made his first formal remarks to legislators about a plan to apply the state sales tax to gas.
O'Malley discussed several of his extensive policy proposals in the address, but it was his plan to remove the sales tax exemption for gas that had people talking. O'Malley says the gas tax has not increased since the early 1990s, and more money is needed now for transportation upgrades.
"Today with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon, our primary source of revenue for transportation is the same flat 23 cents that it was during governor Schaefer's second term, when the price of gasoline was $1.08," says O'Malley. "Meanwhile, it now costs more to paint the Bay Bridge than it did to build the first span."
Opponents are jumping all over the plan, with many Republicans calling O'Malley "out of touch" with working families. GOP senator David Brinkley of Frederick County noted there was no applause for the governor when he discussed the issue during his speech.
"You would have thought for some of the key initiatives, you would have seen some people jumping on board. I didn't see that at all," says Brinkley.
There are supporters of the plan, like Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett: "He put a challenge out there; the challenge was 'Here's my proposal. If you have a better way in which to address these aging infrastructure challenges in transportation, then come forward with that.'"
O'Malley is also proposing changes to both the state's income and flush taxes that would make high earners pay more.