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Three Former Transportation Secretaries Endorse Question 1 in MD

Broad Bi-partisan Coalition Gives the Transportation “Lock-box” Amendment a Momentum Boost as Campaign Reaches Home Stretch

Today, three former Maryland Secretaries of Transportation – who served under both Democratic and Republican Governors — circulated a letter endorsing Question 1, the Transportation “Lock-box” constitutional amendment that is on the ballot in Maryland this year.  Former Secretaries David Winstead, John Porcari and Robert Flanagan signed the letter endorsing Question 1 that was released today (full text is included below).

“This shows the broad bi-partisan support for Question 1,” said SMTA co-founder, Richard Parsons. “Three of the most knowledgeable voices on Maryland transportation issues, Republican and Democratic, are all united in supporting Question 1. That speaks volumes.”

Question 1 would amend the Maryland Constitution to require that funding dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) – including state motor fuel taxes, transit fares, vehicle registration fees and other sources — can only be used for transportation capital and operating expenditures.  Future Governors or State Legislators would not be able to “raid” the TTF once Question 1 goes into effect, unless the Governor declares a fiscal emergency AND a three-fifths supermajority in both houses specifically approves the transfer.

Members of a broad-based statewide coalition endorsing Question 1 also gathered today in Annapolis to issue a final call to voters of Maryland to protect future transportation investment by voting FOR Question 1. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch joined former Secretary Winstead and other coalition members at the press conference in front of the State Capitol. Both the Republican and Democratic nominees for Governor in this year’s contested gubernatorial race have also endorsed Question 1, in addition to the three former Transportation Secretaries.

“This is the final momentum boost we needed heading into tomorrow’s election,” Parsons concluded.

The full text of the letter released today is included below.

# # #

 Putting the Trust Back in Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund

As former Secretaries of Transportation in Maryland, we feel strongly about one issue facing Maryland voters in this year’s elections: The transportation “Lock-box” amendment known as Ballot Question 1. Passage of Question 1 is of vital importance to Maryland’s long-term ability to fund and build major long-term projects. Having worked for both Democratic and Republican Governors, we know that this is one issue that is truly bipartisan.

Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund was established specifically to fund transportation investments – across all modes — in our State’s roads, bridges, transit services, airports and port facilities. Most of the funding comes from the primary users of our various transportation networks, through state motor fuel taxes, vehicle license and registration fees, transit fares, and other transportation-related revenues, in addition to the federal transportation dollars Maryland receives each year under current law.

While this arrangement has worked well over the years, two major problems have emerged since the early 1990s. First, the level of funding flowing into the Trust Fund, until recently, failed to keep pace with the growing need for infrastructure investment and rising operating costs. Second, hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted out of the Transportation Trust Fund for non-transportation purposes. While a significant portion of those diverted funds were eventually restored, according to the 2011 Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, some $947 million in local transportation funds were diverted from the Trust Fund and never restored.

In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed the first major increase in transportation funding in a generation, adding nearly a billion dollars a year in new funds to reduce congestion, improve safety and enhance mobility for the people of Maryland. While overall funding levels are one key part of the equation, the issue of blocking future “raids” on the Trust Fund also must be addressed as part of a long-term solution.

On Tuesday, November 4th, Maryland voters have a chance to take a major step forward by passing Question 1, a constitutional amendment to prohibit any future diversion of funds from Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund for non-transportation purposes. The amendment adds an important new level of protection for our dedicated transportation funds, and will help provide more certainty for funding major long-term projects. Future state leaders could still shift funds in the case of a true fiscal emergency, but only if the Governor issues an executive order declaring a fiscal emergency AND a three-fifths “supermajority” vote in both houses of the Maryland General Assembly concurs.

We feel this is a high enough bar – and certainly a major improvement over current law, which provides no protection at all. We encourage all Marylanders to vote FOR Question 1 on their statewide ballots this year. It’s time to restore trust in Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund and Question 1 is a big step in the right direction.

For more information, visit:  MDTransportation.org or VoteForMD1.com

 

 

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