BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Calling the current schedule “too conservative,” Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday renewed his call to extend Maryland’s gasoline tax exemption to 90 days, saying the state can to provide more relief at the pump.
When Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law the 30-day furlough on March 18, the average price of a gallon of gas in Maryland was $4,166, about 10 cents lower than the national average, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. . On Wednesday, it stands at $3.776 now that the state has suspended its collection of $0.36 a gallon. The national average is $4.237 per gallon.
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“Not only can we afford to extend the gas tax exemption to 90 days, but we should extend it to 90 days to continue to provide meaningful relief to the people of Maryland,” Franchot said. at Wednesday’s public works board meeting.
Earlier this month, the state Board of Revenue Estimates, of which Franchot is a member, projected a surplus of $7.5 billion in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, thanks in part to a balance of 2.5 billion dollars in the previous fiscal year.
Franchot called for a 90-day gas tax holiday when presenting revenue projections on March 10. as well as stimulus payments to low-income families, small businesses and childcare providers.
Speaking on Wednesday, Franchot said a 90-day furlough would bring an estimated $250 million in relief to residents.
Gas tax funds go to transportation and environmental trust funds. The state will use part of its billion surplus to cover losses.
The Transform Maryland Transportation Coalition sent a letter to legislative leaders asking them to oppose the tax exemption, arguing that it would negatively impact transportation funding and spur more driving and higher demand for gasoline.
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The group said an allowance for low-income Marylanders would be a more effective short-term solution.
“Over the long term, Maryland needs to build resilience in our transportation system so that we are less vulnerable to spikes in gasoline prices,” the group said. “Maryland needs to make it easier for people and goods to get where they need to go without worsening the climate crisis.”
Today the @TMTCoalitionof which we are members,
sent a letter to the President of the Senate. Bill Ferguson @SenBillFerg and Speaker of the House Jones @SpeakerAJones urging alternatives to support the Governor’s proposal to suspend the tax ⛽️⛽️ for 30 days.
You can read the letter here: pic.twitter.com/FUPNLwTHiN
— CMTA (@CMTAlliance) March 17, 2022
Maryland State Treasurer Dereck Davis, a member of the Board of Public Works and Board of Revenue Estimates, presented a more cautious outlook, saying the tax holiday could not be extended “indefinitely.”
He referenced 2006, when after years of rate freezes, Baltimore Gas and Electric announced that rates would increase by 72%.
Although he did not approve of extending the measure, Davis said he would have voted for the 30-day vacation.
“I also wanted everyone to know that from now on this is a temporary measure that ends on April 16, and at that time we have to be ready to go back to what the market dictates,” he said.
Franchot, who is running to become the Democratic candidate for governor, called on the Maryland General Assembly to extend the recess during the legislative session, ending April 11, rather than wait to address the issue during an extraordinary session.
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“I think the money is there, obviously, and it’s going to be very popular,” he said.