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Maryland House Committee Tweaks O'Malley's Gas Tax Plan

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The Maryland transportation funding bill has been tweaked so drivers won't feel the pain at the pump until slightly later.
The Maryland transportation funding bill has been tweaked so drivers won't feel the pain at the pump until slightly later.

A Maryland House committee has approved Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to raise the wholesale tax on gasoline to pay for new transportation projects, but not without making a few changes first.

The House Ways And Means Committee amended the plan to apply a 1 percent sales tax on the wholesale price of gas this summer, instead of the 2 percent proposed by O'Malley. The new plan calls for another increase of 2 percent in 2015, instead of the 4 percent proposed to take effect in the summer of next year.

The committee also struck a provision in the bill which would have lowered the per-gallon excise tax on gas from 23.5 cents to 18.5 cents later this year.

The changes would still bring in roughly the same amount of revenue supporters say is needed to fund new mass transit projects like the Purple Line in the D.C. suburbs and the Red Line in Baltimore — about $830 million annually.

Opponents argue new money isn't needed because current transportation funds in the state are mismanaged.

The bill was approved by the committee on a 15-4 party line vote, with Democrats supporting and Republicans dissenting. It now heads to the House floor for a vote as early as this week.

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