Gov. Wes Moore plans to restore $150 million of $3.3 billion in transportation budget cuts
He faces Governor Wes Moore resistance from other state and local leaders about his management plan $3.3 billion trim Of Maryland’s six-year transportation spending plan, he said Tuesday he intends to claw back $150 million in expected cuts.
The move — which includes reversing a plan to limit Baltimore’s huge share of state highway user revenue — will be funded by a one-time infusion of money into the fiscal year 2025 budget that Moore will release in full on Wednesday.
Proposals to reduce highway revenue increases scheduled for Baltimore and other local governments will be fully restored to the tune of $52 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Other plans would also be fully restored to cut $26 million in state support for locally operated transit grants as well as $15 million to maintain transit infrastructure “in good repair.” The Maryland Department of Transportation’s commuter bus service will see $28 million restored from a proposed $64 million cut.
Cuts to the same programs are still scheduled for the years following the 2025-2026 budget. Lawmakers and the governor are scheduled to negotiate the upcoming budget and parts of the state’s other key long-term financial issues — which also include billions of dollars short of robust education reforms and climate plans — in the coming months during the legislative session.
The Democratic governor said in a statement that the $150 million will now serve as a “critical funding bridge” for workers and students who rely on the state’s transportation system.
Moore He also acknowledged concerns that came from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s announcement of the cuts last month, saying, “Many at the local level … have worked with us to communicate their concerns.”
Transport Secretary Paul Wedefeld He said the move is a way to maintain “much needed” services as officials address larger funding issues in the near future.
Officials said last month’s announcement was necessary because of a growing budget gap caused by accelerating costs and an increasingly unsustainable transportation financing system that relies on the state’s gas tax.
The cuts are designed to preserve most essential services but to limit funding for some services such as road trash collection and commuter buses, and to freeze planned highway and road projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Backlash to the revised plan was swift. Several Baltimore-area lawmakers and others from around the state said the cuts would hurt riders at a time when elected officials should be focused on expanding transit options and services.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, said at the time that he was concerned about a plan to eliminate $33.9 million in funding for the Dullfield Boulevard interchange with Interstate 795. State legislators such as Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Stephanie Smith, both Democrats who represent Parts of Baltimore said that while basic transit service would be maintained in the city, rolling back some planned improvements would hinder progress and risk future service.
Lawmakers in Baltimore in particular have expressed concerns about proposed changes to highway user revenues. A new law is scheduled to take effect this year to raise the local share of those funds from 15.6% to about 18%, but the ministry last month called for this increase to be temporarily halted indefinitely. Baltimore is raising most of that local share, meaning millions of dollars in additional funding for road projects is expected to begin later this year.
Smith, in an interview earlier this month, said the Moore administration was open to working with lawmakers to amend the plan during upcoming budget negotiations in Annapolis. Annual cycle of 90 days It started last week It will continue until early April. Moore must release his budget plan on Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear Tuesday whether the $150 million would come at the expense of funding for other programs.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat who also represents Baltimore, said in a recent interview that the public “cannot afford significant cuts,” especially Baltimore-area commuters who depend on the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“To the extent that we have to transfer money to make sure the MTA is fully protected, we will do that,” Ferguson said.
While some lawmakers want to consider new transportation funding revenues this year, Ferguson said he expects those decisions won’t happen until 2025, after a new commission issues a final set of recommendations to rewrite the funding system.
Initial recommendations from the Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs, or TRAIN, asked lawmakers to consider increasing vehicle registration fees or implementing new fees only for electric vehicles, which do not pay gas taxes, as soon as this year. The recommendations also included increasing toll fees to “maximize” the revenue needed to support transportation projects.
Some steps to immediately increase revenue were included in the Transportation Department’s plans as of last month, such as increasing DMV and airport parking fees to attract about an additional $80 million annually.
However, these increases in fees or even registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles are not expected to cover future needs.
“The bigger issue is still there,” Wiedefeld said. “I think everyone realizes that.”