MARYLAND HASN’T been quite the laggard that Virginia has been in terms of raising enough money for the state’s roads, rails, bridges and tunnels, but it’s close. Virginia last raised its per gallon gas tax — the major source of transportation funding — in 1986. Maryland last raised its own levy, albeit to a higher level, in 1992. In both cases the outlook is bleak.
At current trends, Virginia will run out of funds to design and build new transportation projects in 2017; Maryland’s fund will be empty a year later. And neither Richmond nor Annapolis seems to have the political spine to come to grips with what amounts to a breakdown in the government’s basic obligation to provide adequate infrastructure.
In Virginia, as we have recently written, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) seems willing only to push half-measures that will not come close to plugging what has become a $1 billion annual deficit in transportation funding. Despite his considerable popularity, and the fact that his fellow Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, he appears unwilling to challenge the GOP’s ideological distaste for raising taxes, even though the state’s transportation revenue stream has been evaporating for a quarter century.