Casinos and pit bulls may be taking center stage at the special General Assembly session underway in Annapolis, but local governments have made a push for more transportation dollars.
In a letter to legislative leaders this week, Greenbelt Mayor and Maryland Municipal League President Judith “J” Davis asked that a portion of future gambling revenues go to restoring Highway User Revenues — state funds given to local governments to pay for road and infrastructure improvements.
“Over the past several years, the General Assembly has addressed education funding needs through a variety of additional funding sources, but unfortunately the transportation needs of the state are still being neglected,” Davis wrote.
Highway User Revenues were cut drastically in the past several years due to the recession. If fully funded from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012, municipal governments would have received about $135 million. Instead, they received $35 million, Davis wrote.
In fiscal 2013, municipalities are to receive $6.5 million in Highway User Revenues.
During debate Friday, Sen. J.B. Jennings (R-Dist. 7) of Joppa proposed diverting some of the revenue from table games — which may be added to the state’s casinos if lawmakers and voters approve — to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. The amendment did not pass.
House floor debate on the gambling expansion bill proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to begin Monday.