Unsound Transportation Funding

Maryland legislature protests governor's plan to borrow heavily to build a new highway.

Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr. (R), in keeping with his vow to make the Intercounty Connector his number one transportation priority, recently unveiled a plan to finance the $2.4 billion highway. The administration plans to issue $2.2 billion in bonds, and $1 billion would be borrow against federal highway funds that Maryland will receive in the future. This scheme will require the state to use up to 24 percent of their annual federal highway funds to pay off the debt for the next 15 years. State lawmakers outside of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the two primary beneficiaries of the highway, are stronly protesting the plan, complaining that little money will be left over to fund projects in other parts of Maryland. Possible compromises include raising the state gas tax or contributing more money from state general funds. According the Washington Post editorial page, "Mortgaging the future by borrowing bundles from anticipated federal funding is risky business, as officials in other states can attest. The intercounty connector must proceed, but with financial caution."

Thanks to Peter Buryk

Full Story: Debt Heat on the ICC

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