By Bruce Cohen - October 27, 2014
The 2014 Maryland ballot includes two referendum questions; one of which helps protect transportation funding. Senate Bill 829 passed during this year’s General Assembly session, asks the public, “Should the Transportation Trust Funds only be used for transportation projects?”
After years of transportation funds being used in the General Fund, failing transportation infrastructure necessitated those funds be replenished. This was partially accomplished by gas taxes and tolls being increased. To further protect transportation funds, Senate Bill 829, sponsored by Senate President Mike Miller, ask Marylanders to add further requirements to protect fund siphoning. Question 1 states that Transportation Trust Funds will only be used for transportation projects, except when the Governor requests a fund transfer, which must be approved by a three-fifths (3/5) majority of the General Assembly. Even with the fund transfer, all funds must be repaid to the Transportation Trust within five (5) years.
So what does this mean for bike project funds? Question 1 means that transportation funds will only be used for transportation projects. As bicycle projects are funded by the Maryland Department of Transportation through Bikeways Grants and State Highway’s Fund 88 projects, these funds will remain intact. While not a total lock, Question 1 does, in effect, protect bicycle funding.