We all know that Governor Larry Hogan has been a champion for Marylanders. Not only did he undertake to stop the implementation of the ridiculous Rain Tax mandate, he has also directly helped our communities in Southeast Baltimore City through lowering tolls and fees. These are the types of quality of life improvements we have needed, and Governor Hogan has delivered.
Like over 70% of our fellow Marylanders, I trust Governor Hogan’s judgment and know that he is looking out for us, and not trying to politically grandstand like so many of our elected officials. For nearly three decades, the State has had a transportation project funding system in place. However, in a rush, the General Assembly forced though, over the Governor’s veto, a new system for dealing with allocation of funds. This bill was partisan politics at its worst, and, we are learning today, that the repercussions could be disastrous for the State.
The Governor is asking us to support his attempt to repeal the faulty and dangerous “Transportation Scoring Bill,” or, as the Governor is calling it, the “Road Kill Bill,” that was railroaded through the legislature over the Governor’s veto. The implementation of the law has been delayed and the Governor is submitting emergency legislation to avoid the potentially catastrophic impact on local transit projects that this ill-conceived law would cause.
The Governor’s team did the real math that the politicians failed to do in their rush to play politics over transit in the State. In effect, this poorly-thought-out law would require the Governor to only fund projects in Charles, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties. The “scoring system” that was mandated by this law forced the Department of Transportation to use a weighted score to rank major transportation projects in the State.
The Governor’s team concluded that, by following the law as it has been slapped onto the books, only seven of the seventy-three highest priority transportation projects in Maryland will get funded. If this law is not immediately repealed, sixty-six of the highest priority projects across the state will be terminated. Only four counties would be able to receive any funding whatsoever and even those counties wouldn’t get full funding for all of their projects.
“These are the most desperately needed transportation projects of the State,” Governor Hogan said at a press conference. The “road kill bill” usurps power from both local government and from the MDOT and gives the power to the most influential lobbyists.
However, the political theatrics of the bill’s sponsors failed to take into account the real lives that would be impacted by their callous political games. In Baltimore City alone, there would be no funding for the Green Line extension and the Shot Tower Metro “priority projects.” For a State Delegation that went down to Annapolis to complain about Transportation funding, the fact that they would be so tone deaf as to force through a transportation change that would force the cancellation of funding for important urban infrastructure projects is mind-boggling.
Quite simply, if the law comes into effect, nearly a billion dollars in priority projects will be lost. Even for those of us in the Southeast who may not be impacted by the inability of the State to fund priority projects in the City, the law, if implemented, would prevent the State from providing critical infrastructure spending to projects across the State on roads and bridges that we constantly use.
Marylanders are sick and tired of the political games in Annapolis. We successfully got rid of the Rain Tax mandate and have seen a growing sense that there is a real future for bipartisan, good ideas to come out of our elected officials. However, this Transportation law will set back Maryland’s growth and development just so a few well-connected opponents of Larry Hogan can score political points in advance of their runs for higher office in 2018.
It’s of critical importance that we let our State legislators know that we are watching them and are tired of the partisan bickering.