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Poll: Will a Maryland Gas Tax Help or Hurt Working Poor?

Congestion costs disproportionately fall on the backs of working families and the poor, according to one former Montgomery County official.

The costs associated with traffic congestion will fall on the backs of the working poor and families much harder than a higher gas tax in Maryland, said the chairman of a suburban Maryland transportation group.

Douglas M. Duncan, chairman of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, wrote in The Washington Post this month that he supports the gas tax for its ability to invest in roads and transportation, which in turn would reduce traffic back-ups and make Maryland a more attractive state for employers.

“O’Malley’s proposal would cost the average Maryland driver about $90 a year when fully implemented,” he wrote. “This pales in comparison to what our region’s worsening congestion and poor road conditions cost each of us right now: Almost $2,300 a year in wasted gas and extra wear and tear, according to the Road Information Project. Such congestion costs disproportionately fall on the backs of working families and the poor. Nothing is more regressive than severe congestion, lost opportunity and job losses.”

Opponents of the gas tax, which include Elkridge gas station dealer Keith Madsen, say prices are already high, and, “The government is trying to ride out the recession on the backs of taxpayers.”

"People are not happy," said Khawaja Jamal, a manager at one BP Station on Route 40 in Catonsville."The price of gas is already too high."

As of Feb. 21, the average gas price in Maryland was $3.62 per gallon, compared to $3.12 per gallon one year ago, the AAA Mid-Atlantic told the Howard County Times.

With gas prices where they are, O'Malley's proposal would raise prices 20 cents a gallon for drivers, according to WTOP.com.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline “will generate an additional $613 million in revenue to address Maryland’s urgent transportation infrastructure needs and support an estimated 7,500 jobs for Maryland families,” according to a news release from O’Malley’s office.

Maryland’s gas tax has not been increased since 1992, wrote Duncan, who is also the former Montgomery County executive.

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