Gas Tax, Toll Increases, 'Rain Tax' Go Into Effect

FREDERICKMD - The Maryland General Assembly passed almost 800 laws this past session and more than 200 of them went into effect Monday. One of the new laws, the gas tax increase, could affect your bottom line.

"It's going to increase the cost of fuel and in the process, increase the cost of food and everything else that's related with gasoline," says Joe Parsley, owner of the Frederick Shell Car Wash.

Drivers across Maryland now have to shell out about four more cents a gallon for gasoline as phase one of the gas tax increase goes into effect.

"I'm a college student, and I just finished my freshman year. I pay for my own gas, so when I'm not making that much money, it's going to be a lot more of a problem than it is now," says Alexa Goldman, a Frederick Shell customer.

The Maryland Legislature passed the gas tax in hopes of getting more money for transportation projects.

"We've still done nothing to fix the problem of what caused the drain in the Transportation Trust Fund, namely, the government borrowing to pay some of its normal expenses," says Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick.

The gas tax is expected to go up about another 10 cents in 2015 and possibly another eight cents in 2016.

"The consumer price index is what's going to drive the increase in the gasoline tax," Parsley says. "It will never go down if inflation goes down but it will always go up."

Dave Beall owns stations in Brunswick and Jefferson. He's afraid people will drive out of state to fuel up.

"This is another tax that has gone into effect that will give our customers more reason to go a few more minutes to another state where the has is going to be cheaper, and they can get another one of the products that we sell at a lesser price," says Beall, who also owns the Rosemont Service Station in Frederick.

Governor Martin O'Malley's office says the gas tax will generate $4.4 billion in revenue over the next six years, as owners hold their breath their stations will stay in business.

"Just look at what happened with tobacco sales," Brinkley says. "With tobacco sales now, people have the opportunity to cross the state border. They purchase their product there. We still have the health costs, the social costs of tobacco, but we see none of the revenue. Sometimes I wish people in Annapolis making decisions had to pass Economics 101."

Some other laws that went into effect Monday include increases in most major tolls in Maryland and storm water fees, or what critics call the 'Rain Tax,' which is a tax on storm water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

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