Maryland drivers' wallets will soon be running on empty, thanks to Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly.
Starting today, Martin O'Malley's sticky fingers are plunging deep in our pockets to pull out an additional $2 in toll fees for the Bay Bridge, the Harry W. Nice Bridge, the JFK Highway and Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge. The government will grab an additional dollar for the Harbor and Ft. McHenry tunnels and the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Next year when the express toll lanes open on Interstate 95, we'll have even more toll hikes with the variable toll rates lanes. All for the sake of cutting time off on our work commute. This gives whole new meaning to the phrase "time is money" with Governor O'Malley in charge of your wallet.
Meanwhile, until this year the O'Malley administration had been failing to crack down on those who breeze through the E-Z pass tolls without paying. In the last five years these toll-runners have chalked up nearly $6.7 million in unpaid tolls — and they want to dip into the pockets again of the law-bidding motorists.
Consider the surrounding states. Delaware has $10 in tolls for the entire state. West Virginia has only one toll road. Our good friends in Virginia only pay $27.10, and that's including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at $12. Only the state of Pennsylvania equals our current total of $33, and they have 15 toll roads compared to our eight soon to be nine. Really? I think I'm going to faint — grab the smelling salts.
As if that's not bad enough, Governor O'Malley's gas tax increase kicked in on the same day as the higher tolls. If the federal government doesn't add to our misery, you'll be paying at least 62.5 cents per gallon in taxes by 2016.
In just the past two years alone we've see car registration double (don't forget that the gas tax legislation tacked another $3.50 to the registration fee), vehicle titling double, and car dealers' processing fees double. Even moped and motor scooter owners are getting hit with the addition of a $20 titling fee and an excise tax of 6 percent, the requirement that they buy insurance and the additional cost to purchase a helmet and protective eye wear. We always have the option of riding a bike, roller skates or a skateboard until they find a way to tax that too!
And we haven't even gotten to the wind and rain taxes Governor O'Malley inflicted on us. With all the legislation that was passed in the recently ended legislative session, we should all be thankful that it only lasts for 90 days. Otherwise we might be finding ourselves at the local soup kitchen for what this governor is costing us.
Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican, represents Harford and Cecil counties in the General Assembly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.