From the office of Del. Pat McDonough:
Delegate McDonough will speak at Dundalk Middle School during the Transportation Department Public Hearing regarding his proposed Toll Fairness Act, which will accomplish the following:
1. Declare a moratorium on all toll increases
2. The Governor and General Assembly will be mandated to vote on any toll increase providing accountability and removing that power currently held by unelected bureaucrats.
3. Prohibit any funds from transportation to be confiscated and used for non-transportation costs During the past 8 years, almost $800,000,000 has been stolen from the Transportation Fund for non-transportation projects.
Top Ten Reasons Why the Toll Tax Hike is a Bad Idea!
1. The Governor and General Assembly Leaders are planning a gas tax hike in the Fall Special Session. The Toll Hike and the Gas Tax Hike combined will remove 1 billion dollars from the family budgets, hurt the economy, and kill jobs.
2. The “Governor’s Jobs Bill” was funded by transportation money by the latest economic report indicates Maryland is last in the country in jobs’ creation.
3. The taxpayers have not received an accurate list of proposed projects that need funding which would justify the toll increases.
4. The revenue from the current toll rate actually produced a profit this year of $58 million dollars.
5. The transportation fund has become a welfare program subsidizing fair box operating costs for busses, light rail, and subways. Many are riding these systems without paying any fares and draining the transportation trust fund placing pressure on toll fees.
6. The politicians in Annapolis have raided the transportation fund on numerous occasions during the past 8 years, confiscating almost $800,000,000 (eight hundred million dollars).
7. MDOT mismanagement is a big problem. The ICC road project in the Washington D.C. suburbs has costs overruns and the I-95 upgrades are already 40% over budget. Still, MDOT has other major projects on the planning board, like 2 big light rail systems that will cost billions. These money drains should be shelved.
8. The Maryland Bay Bridge is facing a 220% toll increase. The two Fort McHenry tunnels and the Key Bridge are facing a 100% toll increase. The I-95 Hatem Bridge will face a 60% increase. The Delaware Memorial Bridge received a $1.00 increase this year.
9. This is a really bad time for any kind of tax increase. In America today, there are 30% fewer jobs being created and the people are 20% less wealthy than they were just 10 years ago. The poverty rate in Baltimore County has increased by 30% during that same time period. The outrageous toll increase for trucks will generate higher costs for groceries and other necessary products. The toll hike is another hidden tax on Maryland families.
10. Maryland’s bridges and tunnels are a necessity for residents to go to work and survive. They are not a luxury. The toll tax hike will hit Marylanders hard every day and destroy what is left of consumer spending. It is a regressive tax on middle and working class families.
I have added some comments, copied and pasted the link and did a mass emailing from my contact list to get the word out on what MDTA is attempting to do to the citizens of Maryland. I encourage you to do the same, get the word out on what is happening.
Richard Baldwin Cook says
Who ought to pay to maintain the bridges and roads? Few of the Dagger comments address this fundamental question. Neither does Delegate McDonough’s proposal (above).
Check out Dan Rodricks in the Sun (June 21, 2011) Rodricks points out that the Hatem decal is a huge bargain (a subsidy, really) for regular bridge users. Which raises the question: what is all the fuss about?
Subsidy? The bridge was built as part of FDR’s New Deal, the bridge is paid for so how can paying to cross it be a subsidy, it is a tax!
Richard Baldwin Cook says
Following your logic, anything that was built a long time ago but is still in use, does not need $$ to be maintained.
My question remains unanswered: who more than the users ought to pay to maintain bridges and roads?
If the money hadn’t been squandered to pay for things other than the maintenance of the bridges and roads there wouldn’t be an issue here. Do you honestly think they won’t continue to use the transportation fund like a piggy bank for other spending that has nothing to do with transportation? It’s just another tax so they can live up to their tax more spend more mentality.
Richard Baldwin Cook says
Still no answer to the central question: who, more than users, ought to pay to maintain such services as the Hatem bridge?
@ Richard- Agreed e.g. paying for the use of the bridge. However as was stated in other threads repeatedly, the plan is not to pay for the upkeep. The plan is to subsidize PG and Montgomery counties with the monies, who have overspent and now are going to be subsidized by Harford and Cecil county residents through higher charges for the Hatem Bridge. I would venture to say very few PG county and Montgomery people utilize the AVI decal and bypass that bridge in lieu of 95 due to its multiple lanes and convenience, if at all. The Hatem Bridge is an alternative for the people in and around Harford/Cecil county and any fees involved should be applied county specific.
Lin, I glad to see someone standing behind us. I hope that Del. Rudolph and Del. Dulaney-James jump aboard.
name specific non transportation projects this money went to. no one actually has backed up that claim you make they just say it hoping it is true.
@CDEV, I don’t know if the money was ever used on non transportation uses or not. I think, however, since we can force commuters to pay for highway projects all over Maryland, we should have PG and Montgomery County residents pay the gas tax for us all… we’ll just adjust it higher to compensate for the counties that won’t be paying. Pretty much the same thing…
@Richard; It’s unfortunate so many folks don’t understand the whole toll increase situation – especially when they choose to editorialize about it. With all due respect, Rodricks doesn’t know the whole story. As I have stated before, I (like most commuters) am willing to pay for my use of the bridge. Increases are necessary. We understand that. That is NOT what this is about. This is an increase from $10 per year to $90 in 2013 to pay for the ICC which MTA built in rich, heavily Democratic counties. They also want the elimination of the AVI system (MTA claims barcodes are “outdated”) forcing unwilling commuters to purchase EZ-Pass or pay cash. The MTA must be salivating over the impending purchase of tens of thousands of EZ-Pass units at $21 each (plus $25 deposit each). The EZ-Pass system is a boondoggle complete with a phony monthly “administrative” fee that probably goes straight to bonuses for “administration”. It’s only a matter of time until the EZ-Pass site is hacked and everyone’s credit card data is compromised. Will the MTA help you then? The MTA hates the AVI decal because it’s anonymous. The MTA just keeps stating that it has “commitments” to pay for… I don’t remember agreeing to pay for the MTA’s “commitments” – particularly for projects I’ll never see. The MTA sees every toll booth as an ATM and has no real concept of how to function within a budget – they simply demand more money.
Richard Baldwin Cook says
Thanks for the detailed response. I agree with you about EZ-Pass, which began as a great idea but which has become punitive. You are probably right, too that hacking that system is a real possibility.
Dan Rodricks’ reasoning seems pretty good to me, as to the past and continuing bargain of the bridge decal system and the need for transportation service users to pay a significant cost for those services. I hope the bridge decal system remains in place, for those who daily use the bridge. Pretty neat.
The expensive ICC probably was needed to relieve congestion in the DC ‘burbs. These expensive services around DC are part of the cost of having the nation’s capitol as a neighbor – which benefits Maryland far more than it costs.
The current rate increase hubba hubba seems to be an occasion for bashing politicians and state employees. Some of the signs and posters were probably counter productive.
Maryland fundamentally is a well managed state.
Have you ever sat in traffic on the DC beltway on 95 and 495 during rush hour. The ICC while expensive is actually needed as adding additional lanes to the current road is not practical. Like adding lanes to 95 north of Baltimore was needed.
@CDEV, I agree, the ICC is needed to alleviate traffic on the beltway… however, you also mention the additional lanes for I95 – which will have tolls to help pay for them won’t they? Where are the tolls for the ICC going to be? Anywhere but PG and Montgomery Counties.
To use the ICC you will have a toll. while the originating traffic may be from the district and anne arundel county it will also impact residents of montgomery and northern PG county as well.
The ICC website is VERY informative… I recommend it highly. So… tolls will be used to control congestion – not in any real “try to pay for the highway” manner. It’s not there to help with traffic on the beltway, 95 or 270. Now, while those who are budget conscience will continue to use those “hilly two lane roads” because those who are more affluent will use the ICC, I’m trying to figure out how a budget conscience person like myself will cross the Susquehanna without the benefit of a bridge.
Good Points. According to the US Census Bureau:
Mont County Median Income-92, 213
Harf County Median Income-75,872
Cecil County Median Income-65,079
Montgomery County Families bring in $16, 341 more that Harford County Families and $27,136 more than Cecil County Families.
Mont County Family Proverty Level – 4.3
Harford County Family Proverty Level – 5.0
Cecil County Family Proverty Level – 5.7
Montgomery County is out performing Harford County by .7%, and Cecil County by 1.4%. They should find a way to fund their own programs.
Perhaps HArford and Cecil county should pay for the Hateem bridge repair locally?
GENERATIONS of Harford and Cecil county residents and commuters have paid for the Hatem bridge many times over during it’s 70 year life. Where did the money go?
So by that logic we should build a new Harry Nice Bridge? These guys for generations have paid taxes and tolls on our roads too. Look at it this way the ICC will generate more toll revenue. It will also reduce congestion on 495 West Primarily as you can cut through as well as 29 and other roads. Thus less in repair costs.
Road work needs to occur. Road work cost money, and the funds have to come from somewhere. However, the contracts go to over priced contracts that must be unionized. It’s crazy to tax, tax, tax the citizens so one man can receive $50/hour to watch another hold a shovel. Citizens have had enough. Income tax has increased, sales tax has increased, food has gone up, and now tolls. We have a right to protest and be hear, just like you have. I don’t know you, or want to pass judgement … but I’m wondering what you do for a living? Do you work for MTA, do you work road construction? Are you on disability or have someone close to you that recieves state funding. I don’t mean to pry, but the majority is pleading with the state because there budget his hard to maintain. They are asking to state to start cutting expense, not to continue spending, and elevating cost.
Common Cent$ says
McDonough “YOU LIE” (and PANDER!) Your “top ten reasons why the toll tax is a bad idea” are mostly B.S. and you know it. And if you don’t know it, well….maybe you should resign! First of all, your proposed “Toll Fairness Act” is illegal. Second of all, it would never be considered by the vast majority of the general assembly (both parties!). That being said, here’s just a couple of comments regarding some of the “bullets” in your “top ten reasons”:
1.) There has been NO official proposal an increase to the fuel tax at the special session scheduled for this fall.
2.) Has nothing to do with the MdTA proposed toll rate.
3.)Taxpayers don’t receive “accurate lists” of where money will be spent to justify their taxes or tolls for anything.
4.)Show us the numbers! This is a false statement.
5.)Tolls as imposed by MdTA have NOTHING to do with subsidizing busses,light rail, etc. They are seperate accts!
6.) Politicians may have “raided” the transportation trust fund, but NEVER the MdTA fund! It is NOT POSSIBLE!
7.)MDOT & MdTA are totally seperate agencies. Not relevent!
8.)What’s your point? The Bay Bridge currently costs less for a round trip than when it opened in the 1950’s!
9.)Let’s be truthful Pat, there would NEVER be a GOOD time for an increase in ANY tax or toll. (wither on the vine?)
10.) The tolls throughout the state (about 6 of them?) are supposed to make the facilities self sustaining. The current tolls (or anything proposed) are NOT regressive. In fact, they are (and will be) payed for by the users. Isn’t that the most equitable way to pay for infrastructure “Mr. Conservative”?
My point is, Delegate McDonnough is probably the BEST liar ande panderer in the entire General Assembly. Wake up Baltimore County and Southern Harford County. This “man” is an embarrasment to his constituants! Please don’t placate this fool.
@common cent$, I only wish number 10 were true. “The tolls throughout the state (about 6 of them?) are supposed to make the facilities self sustaining.” Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re trying to pull here. The MTA wants to pay for the ICC (and whatever else they come up with) with money from commuters in Harford and Cecil counties. There are 150,000 decals in use and they stand to immediately rake in $15 mil if they convert (21+25+36+18 x 150,000), followed by $13.5 mil per year from 2013 on. Does it really seem like they need that much to maintain the Hatem Bridge?
Not from Here says
Politicians count on voters being uninformed.
regressive means same for all income levels says
Come on liberals. You should “regressive” whenever it suits you, but now that it is a TOLL TAX increase that affects everyone equally, it isn’t a regressive tax?
This is a regressive tax. The portion of income that a poor person pays is greater than the portion of income that a wealthy person pays for the same TOLL.
Unless the definition changed sometime recently, toll increases are regressive taxes that hurt working people the most. This is both grievous and oppressive and should be avoided at all costs.
Richard Baldwin Cook says
Still no answer to the central question: who, more than users, ought to pay to maintain such services as the Hatem bridge?
McDonough’s legislative directive #3 is the only good one. Enough of the money shell games in Annapolis that allows our elected officials to dodge responsibility.
However, I am not sure that transferring the power to raise tolls from an “independent” body to elected officials is a good idea either. We might never see the tolls raised again, which would be another case of everyone getting what they want, and nobody getting what they need from their government. What we need to do, is dramatically revise the process by which tolls are raised and overhaul the MDTA board’s makeup.
To answer your fine question Mr. Cook, yes, the users should be responsible for paying their own way. But if we want to go down that road, then let’s have a solid accounting of exactly how much each crossing has required in expenditures since it was constructed and how much toll revenue is has generated, and let’s set the tolls based on that. That’s fair. My guess is people aren’t going to like that result much better.
Last thing I’d like to point out is that for ALL of the users of the tunnel crossings, it IS a convenience. They can always go through the city and/or take public transit.
For users of I95, and most of the users of the Bay Bridge, these are conviences. (most, not counting some commuters)
But for the 90% of the local residents who use decals to cross Hatem, it is a necessity and part of their daily lives. There should be a different standard applied to that than to the occasional convenient use of someone from Richmond who would like to get to Philadelphia.
@Richard, You’re absolutely right, the users should pay for the maintenance of the bridge. Good luck getting real numbers on what that might be. By the same token the MTA needs to drop a toll booth in the middle of their ICC so those users can pay for it instead of robbing the poor to pay for the rich.
The ICC will have tolls!
I stand corrected, the ICC will have tolls. Their site indicates “Tolls will be utilized as a mechanism for managing congestion”. The funding for the project comes from a grab bag of sources. They also state it “is not designed or intended to relieve congestion on the Beltway, I-95 or I-270.”
They also state “the ICC will reduce cross-county traffic that currently overburdens hilly, two-lane east-west roads” in PG and Montgomery Counties. Perfect, a highway for the benefit of TWO counties we can all share the cost of.
Mark F says
Richard Baldwin Cook, I agree with you 100%. Users should pay.Lets take your idea a little further though. Lets make people using welfare pay for there benefits, and while we are at it, lets make jobless people pay for there unemployment benefits. Lets take the huge tax deduction people with kids get away. I mean they are the ones using the schools. I dont’ have kids so why should I pay when they are getting huge credits. Gosh, you are a freaking Genius, I wish somebody would have thought of this sooner.
You’ve been answered multiple times in a variety of ways. There is a constant source of revenue in the form of the state transportation fund. Money is collected from various sources, gasoline tax is one example, and is applied to Maryland’s highways and byways, so we’re told. Alas, the fund has been raided by the folks who you seem to think are doing a pretty good job. If the dollars we already are charged were used for what we’ve been told it was/is we wouldn’t need any toll increases. As far as Dan Rodericks being a legitimate, UNBIASED informational source, try again. His writings are about as relevant and reliable as his employer. What happened to the federal stimulus money that Governor O’Malley accepted? I was led to believe that a portion of my tax money, as well as all the other hard workers, was slated for shovel ready transportation jobs. As a matter of fact, bridge repair was front and center on the list. Is it possible that we were told yet another tall tale by a politician? Based on the number of concerned citizens that turned out for the Perryville public hearing I’d say people are mad as hell and aren’t going to listen to any more lies. Especially from a groupthink MoveOner with a sordid agenda.
If they’re a necessity for all Marylanders then remove all the tolls and pay for the upkeep a different way.
Richard Baldwin Cook says
OK. I get it now. The “public” ought to subsidize bridge users. I doubt if even Pat McD would be willing to put that into writing.
Yeah, don’t subsidy the bridge. Good idea.
How about all tolls from Hatem stay at Hatem for upkeep and repairs. No subsidy from the state at all.
Then just perform the repairs that can be afforded, post a “use at your own risk” sign and call it a day?!
@wellthereyougo; I am a daily commuter on the Hatem Bridge. I think many others would agree with myself that we would be happy to pay for the maintenance of the bridge. I would be ok paying the $36 they’re claiming it will be next year if it weren’t tied to the EZ-Pass boondoggle which makes it actually $54. The MTA is hell bent on getting us all on EZ-Pass so the milking can begin. The AVI works fine for all their insistence it’s “outdated”. These communities are intertwined whereas the MTA board members probably don’t know their own neighbors. I haven’t heard, are any board members courageous enough to show up at one of these meetings to face the people they’re trying to bleed? People in these communities rely on this bridge. Hospital patients (to HMH), VA patients (people who fought for us) to Perry Point, school sports teams and their parents, families. This change will negatively impact businesses on both sides of the river. This bridge isn’t in the middle of nowhere like the I95 bridge… it’s linking two tightly knit communities. Commuters and residents are being unfairly targeted by the MTA to pay for their lack of planning skills.
Actually, that’s the point of the meetings, the MDTA board is there to listen to public comment. Even the ones calling them “cowards”.
You should, I dunno, actually go to a meeting.
Don’t be an computer chair politician.
@Noble, I was at Perryville, I plan to be at the HdG meeting as well. I don’t recall anyone being introduced as a “board member”. Maybe you should have asked me first. These “dog and pony” shows count for nothing. The MTA isn’t the least bit concerned about upsetting Harford or Cecil county residents. The fact that GENERATIONS of residents and commuters have been paying to cross this bridge for over 70 years means nothing to them.
I apologize if I made a false assumption. However, if you compare the photos of the board members found here http://www.mdta.maryland.gov/About/about.html to some of the photos of the meeting in Perryville here http://www.cecilwhig.com/local_news/article_40514fea-992c-11e0-99c1-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=image&photo=1
It seems pretty clear that at least some of the MDTA board members were sitting right at the table.
I did not make it to that meeting because I had a 103 fever at the time, but I will see you in HdG.
@ Amazed, since the state wants to avoid obsolete technology … we can rest assured that the EZ pass will be replace shortly after the mass purchase by Marylanders. After all, “In 1991, the E-ZPass IAG was created to develop (Wikipedia).” It just celebrated two decades.
Watch out Dagger readers. Some of the commenters here are attempting to draw you in to a grander scheme. Once you agree that the “public” should subsidize Hatem Bridge, next will be socialized medicine. There are professional, political plants that monitor and respond to all local and national publications. Don’t be fooled, there’s a hidden agenda.
To be fair how many use the Hatem bridge to avoid the toll on 95?
True, and how many get off at Elkton/Newark road to avoid the Delaware line toll? I do it all the time, but at least the decal gets $10 while Delaware gets nothing. Most of the tolls in the state can be avoided more easily than these bridges. The MTA is counting on that.
I wouldn’t say Delaware gets nothing they have more tolls per mile of road then any other state in the union. Try going to the beach through Delaware you pay a lot of tolls there!
I was referring to the Delaware line toll and how easily it can be avoided.
I know. I avoid it regularly. My point was Deleware gets you way more then Maryland.
Actually, according to the State’s 2008 Toll Plaza Relocation Study, less than 200 cars per day detour from I-95 to Hatem and back to I-95. That’s 200 out of the thousands of cars per day that cross the Hatem and Tydings bridges. And, they estimate that 90% of the traffic crossing the Hatem every day is “local” traffic.
At the other 95 exits in Cecil County considerably more, hundreds of cars detour into Delaware on Route 40 (meaning, not local traffic).
That’s the reason the tolls for I95 and Hatem have to be the same, otherwise those numbers will go up. But it also shows that local residents are taking a good hit on the use of the Hatem bridge.
The ICC has tolls. On the portion that is finished the toll is $1.15 to $1.45 depending on the day. As I cross two sections of the ICC, I can say there is very little traffic on the 6 lanes (3 lanes each way). A DC radio station reported that the low usage is due to the toll rate.
Now where does MDOT get funds?
1) Gas tax, from everyone who buys gas Oakland to OC.
2) MTA Bus, subway, lightrail. Fare box recovery on public transportation in no way covers MTA costs, so this is a negative cash flow.
3) MAA every plane that goes through BWI and Martin State Airport pays. Every car that parks pays.
4) MVA registration, title, etc. if you drive you pay.
5) MPA every ship that come alongside pays, storage of imports and exports cost, if you go on a cruise there is a port tax per person and parking is charged per day.
6) MdTA every toll road.
7) SHA has no income, it also is a negative cash flow.
If you go to the state site and look up Legislative Audits you can see the recurring accounting problems at each agency. MdTA has problems with collection of EZ Pass, which is recurring meaning that its not the first time.
Transportation is awash with cash its just not spent smart and its “borrowed” for the General Fund.
one more former student says
for all the people that whine about “their” decal system. it’s obsolete, it’s getting harder to maintain each year, and with EZ-pass you have to maintain 2 systems that do the same thing. Let the decal system go the way of the Pinto, Pacer and Pontiac. We all have had a great deal for over 20 years, gas isn’t .99 a gallon, cars don’t cost 9K and an oil change isn’t $14.95. Take the toll ,adjust it for inflation from 1970 and make that the one way cost. Then multiply it by 200 trips, then cut it by 2/3. There is the cost for EZ-pass account to use the Hatem. And for those that really whine, and don’t want to update… are you using a commador 64 computer or one running windows 3.1.1????
Dave Yensan says
@ one more former student: What are you talking about, obsolete? Just because the technology is several years old it is far from obsolete. The system works like clockwork and all of us who use it, find it to be flawless. Your condescending remark about our use of technology is way the hell out there. Because I don’t want an EZ pass, I must be a dinosaur, using a Commodore 64. No I have a Digital Vax 11-780 in the basement and am running DOS 3.1
One More Former Student:
I’m guessing that you don’t use the bridge on a daily basis, and have little interest in the economics of Harford or Cecil counties.
The decal should be FREE to people living in those counties, should also be available on I95, and perhaps $40 per annum for visitors and boaters coming from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Havre de Grace, Perryville and Port Deposit all rely heavily on visitors from out of state. The new Perryville casino will be a bust; over 50% of their current revenue comes from south of the river.
The cost of every single product that has to cross the river will increase; thereby doubling the effect of this tax.
As we sit on the edge of a double dip recession, does it really make sense to tax ourselves out of business?
Finally, to counter your points, a top of the line computer system is now about 40% of the cost of a system when Windows 3.1 was around, and the cost of the operating system has remained reasonably static.
@one more former student: It’s a shame you didn’t read earlier posts. The MTA is not raising the rates to pay for upkeep of the bridge. They’re screwing the local communities and commuters to pay for stuff all over Maryland. I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t commute or live near the bridge to care, but I fail to see how anyone can not see the unfairness of this targeted tax. I have already posted my comments to their website and they informed me that barcodes are obsolete. They need to tell Walmart, because they’re still using them. My biggest problem with EZ-Pass is and will remain the bogus “administration” fee they’re screwing the pass holders out of.
Have any of you attended any of the public hearings? Or have any of you filed any of these comments on the MdTA website? I would suggest doing so and stop wasting your time arguing on her.
oops. typo. here?
Richard Baldwin Cook says
And good luck filing comments at the MdTA website. I tried that several times and gave up. Kept getting an error message that all the necessary info tabs were not filled in – although they were. (Why do you have to slot in all that info before you can leave a comment, anyway?)
The MdTA comments site is not user friendly.