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Maryland Comptroller Opposes Gas Tax Hike

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Maryland's Democratic comptroller has come out against Governor Martin O'Malley's plan to raise the gas tax.
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Maryland's Democratic comptroller has come out against Governor Martin O'Malley's plan to raise the gas tax.

Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot is strongly coming out against raising taxes on gasoline in the state.

During his state of the state address last week, Governor Martin O'Malley unveiled his plan to end the sales tax exemption for gasoline. The governor wants more money for transportation projects.

Republicans immediately came out against the plan, and now they're being joined by comptroller Peter Franchot. The Democrat says the economy is just now beginning to turn around, and it's a bad time to make the price of a gallon of gas jump 18 cents in Maryland.

"This is when governments at all levels should be doing everything they can to stay out of the way and foster this private sector growth," says Francot.

Franchot says just raising more money won't necessarily translate to better roads and trains. He says lawmakers in Annapolis routinely take money from the state's transportation trust fund and spend it on other things, adding that he knows this all too well from his time in the House of Delegates before he was elected comptroller.

"I chaired the transportation subcommittee," says Franchot. "We had an art form of raiding the transportation trust fund for general fund purposes."

A hearing was held yesterday on a bill that would institute a lock box on the trust fund...meaning money from it could only be spent on transportation. Franchot didn't hold out hope it would be passed, calling the lock box a "unicorn," something he's yet to see and likely never will.

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