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OPEN LETTER TO MARYLANDERS:

O'Malley's Proposed Gas Tax Indexing Will Pick Your Pockets

A letter to the public from Md. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin

Making tax increases automatic is a slap in the face to the democratic process.
November 2, 2007—My constituents’ mail, e-mail and phone contacts have made it unmistakably clear that they do not know or understand the consequences Governor O’Malley’s proposed indexing of the state gas tax will bring down upon them. I am adamantly opposed to indexing and I would like an opportunity to explain my concerns.

I have publicly declared my opposition to gas tax increases of any sort. However, indexing the gas tax is an evil of a different and dire sort. Indexing smoothly paves the road to automatic tax increases through by-passing the otherwise necessary approval of our law-making body, the Maryland General Assembly. The Governor’s proposal ties gas tax increases to an inflationary factor, the rising cost of construction.

It should be emphasized that the gas tax is tied only to construction cost increases, not possible future construction decreases. In short, the gas tax will never go down because of cost decreases. It will only go up and up and up. Let’s face it, it is downright cruel to working families to propose gas tax increases based on any inflationary factor, especially at this time, when the per-barrel price of oil has soared to more than $90, and the per-gallon price of gas at the pump is expected to reach $3.50 within six months. Indeed, these are the same working families for whom the Governor consistently declares his concern.

Making tax increases automatic is a slap in the face to the democratic process. Under O’Malley’s indexing proposal, gas taxes will increase automatically without the taxpayers’ elected representatives casting a vote for or against those increases. Lawmakers in Annapolis should be accountable for their votes. Indexing the gas tax gives the tax-and-spend crowd a free pass every year. This is unacceptably bad public policy.

As I witness the hearings on the legislation that will enable an automatic tax increase every year, I am convinced that this proposal has not been properly explained to Maryland taxpayers. I’m just old-fashioned enough to believe that if the process or the consequences of gas tax indexing had been made clear to Marylanders, they would be rallying in angry and sustained protest. Without such public protest and calls to the members of the General Assembly, gas tax indexing could become a fact of Maryland life. Please consider joining me in the fight to keep gas tax indexing from becoming law.


E. J. Pipkin represents Maryland's 36th Legislative District (Upper Shore). He may be reached at ej.pipkin@senate.state.md.us.


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This story was published on November 2, 2007.