Maryland Transportation Fund Amendment, Question 1 (2014)

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Question 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Maryland Constitution
Referred by:Maryland Legislature
Topic:State and local government budgets, spending and finance on the ballot
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
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November 4
Question 1 Approveda
Question 2 Approveda
Endorsements

The Maryland Transportation Fund Amendment, Question 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Maryland as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure was designed to provide for the establishment of a constitutionally-defined transportation trust fund and require that revenue in the fund be used for paying transportation-related bond debt and for the construction and maintenance of highways. The measure required that the revenue in the fund not be transferred to the state general fund or a special fund, except to the Maryland Transportation Authority, Maryland Transportation Authority Fund, counties, municipalities and Baltimore or when the governor declares a fiscal emergency or the legislature obtains a three-fifths vote in both chambers.[1]

At the time of the measure's passing, Maryland had a Transportation Trust Fund, but this fund was defined by state statute. Question 1 would define this fund by the Maryland Constitution. Utilized to pay for highways and motor vehicle, transit, aviation and port projects, the fund's revenue comes from motor fuel taxes, motor vehicle excise taxes, motor vehicle registration and licensing fees, bond proceeds, rental car sales taxes, some of the state's corporate income tax, and profits from transportation services.[2]

Election results


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This ballot measure article has preliminary election results. Certified election results will be added as soon as they are made available by the state or county election office. The following totals are as of 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Maryland Amendment 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,283,053 81.65%
No288,41118.35%

Election results via: Maryland State Board of Elections

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text was as follows:[3]

Question 1

Constitutional Amendment (Ch. 422 of the 2013 Legislative Session)
Transportation Trust Fund – Use of Funds

(Amending Article III by adding Section 53 to the Maryland Constitution)

Limits the use of Transportation Trust Funds to the payment of principal and interest on transportation bonds and for constructing and maintaining an adequate highway system or any other transportation-related purpose. Also prohibits the transfer of Transportation Trust Funds into the General Fund or a special fund of the State, except for: (1) an allocation or use of highway user revenues for local governments or (2) a transfer of funds to the Maryland Transportation Authority or the Maryland Transportation Authority Fund. Transportation Trust Funds may be used for non-transportation related purposes or transferred to the general fund or a special fund only if the Governor declares a fiscal emergency and the General Assembly approves legislation, by a three-fifths vote of both houses, concurring with the use or transfer of the funds.

For the Constitutional Amendment
Against the Constitutional Amendment[4]

Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services was as follows:[5]

Fiscal Summary

State Effect: If adopted, the constitutional amendment would eliminate any transfers or distributions from TTF to the general fund or a special fund beginning in FY 2015. The overall effect on TTF revenues and expenditures is potentially significant but cannot be reliably estimated at this time and would depend on whether, and to what extent, TTF revenue distributions are not modified or transfers are not made as a result of the constitutional amendment.

Local Effect: None. It is assumed that the potential for increased costs to notify voters of any constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly, and to include any proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot at the next general election, will have been anticipated in local boards of elections’ budgets.

Small Business Effect: None.[4]

Support

The campaign in support of the amendment was led by the Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Transportation Funds.[6]

Supporters

Officials

The following officials sponsored the amendment:[7]

Other officials who supported the ballot measure included:

Former officials

The following former official sponsored the amendment:[7]

Organizations

  • Montgomery County Democratic Precinct Organization[9]
  • AAA Mid-Atlantic[6]
  • Corridor Cities Transitway Coalition
  • Dorchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce
  • Garrett County Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Baltimore Committee
  • Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce
  • Maryland Motorcoach Association
  • Maryland Association of Realtors
  • Maryland Chamber of Commerce
  • Maryland Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (Maryland AGC)
  • Maryland Motor Truck Association, Inc.
  • Maryland Rural Counties Coalition[10]
  • Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association
  • Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
  • Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association[11]
  • Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance
  • Talbot Chamber of Commerce

Arguments

The Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Transportation Funds provided six reasons to support Question 1:

  • Maryland has some of the worst traffic conditions in the United States, a long list of roads and bridges in poor or sub-standard condition, and a long list of state and local transit and road improvements that would help reduce congestion, improve safety and reliability, create jobs, and boost our economy – but those projects could all be derailed if Maryland fails to protect the Transportation Trust Fund.
  • Question 1 would help ensure adequate levels of transportation funding -- without raising taxes – by making sure that the funds we already dedicate to Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund can ONLY be used for transportation-related purposes.
  • Question 1 would amend the Maryland Constitution to keep those transportation funds from being diverted to other uses. This makes the availability of funds for major projects like the Purple Line, the Red Line, and other road, bridge, transit, port and airport improvements more predictable and sustainable, and reduces uncertainty and delay that can dramatically drive up financing costs.
  • Question 1 offers the strongest possible protection for the Transportation Trust Fund by amending the Maryland Constitution to prohibit future transfers. Legislative remedies are not enough: Even if the General Assembly passed legislation to prohibit future “raids” on the Transportation Trust Fund, that legislative language would not bind future legislators or future Governors, and could be undone at any time by simple majority vote. This is why we need a constitutional amendment (as Maryland already has in place to protect education funding).
  • If there is a true fiscal emergency, this Amendment would allow State leaders the flexibility to manage the situation. However, the Governor would have to issue an executive order declaring a fiscal emergency, AND both houses of the General Assembly would have to approve any transfers by a three- fifths supermajority vote. Given the impact that declaring a fiscal emergency would have on bond rating agencies and investors, this is not something any Governor or General Assembly would do lightly.
  • Question 1 puts the “trust” back in the Transportation Trust Fund. Without the constitutional protections it would provide, state leaders would continue to be able to simply divert our already- scarce transportation funds any time they wished, for any reason.

[4]

Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Transportation Funds[6]

Other arguments in favor of the amendment included:

  • Donald C. Fry, President of the Greater Baltimore Committee, stated, "Transportation projects do require long-term planning and are usually paid for over an extended period of time. So you want to have a solid, sustainable amount of money in the trust fund, and whenever moneys are taken from that, that certainly limits some of the spending you'd like to have in the future."[12]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

The following officials voted against the amendment in the Maryland Legislature:[13][14]

Former officials

The following former official voted against the amendment:[13]

Arguments

  • Rep. Andrew Serafini (R-2A) said, "It's not a lockbox. It's not very difficult to get past." He deemed the three-fifths vote requirement to access the funds inadequate. Democrats held a three-fifths majority in the legislature at the time of the general election and could have therefore opened the "lockbox" along party lines.[8]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Maryland ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Baltimore Sun said, "So, while we aren't convinced this is a perfect solution, we do think it's much better than what we have now. Taxpayers deserve to know there is some integrity in the process, and some integrity is better than no integrity. We support the amendment and ask voters to vote "yes" on Question 1."[15]
  • Southern Maryland Newspapers Online said, "This constitutional amendment offers some protection that the taxes and fees Marylanders pay as a price for driving an automobile won’t be siphoned off to cover other shortfalls in the state budget before the region’s road projects get a fair hearing."[16]
  • The Star Democrat said, "Despite that, the constitutional amendment will better ensure funds that are supposed to be used for transportation purposes are in fact used for transportation purposes."[17]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Maryland Constitution

A 60 percent majority vote in both chambers of the Maryland State Legislature was required to refer the amendment to the ballot. Senate Bill 829, which put the amendment on the ballot, was approved in the Maryland House of Delegates on April 5, 2013. The bill was approved in the Maryland Senate on April 7, 2013. The amendment was enrolled as a constitutional referendum on May 2, 2013.[7]

House vote

April 5, 2013 House vote

Maryland SB 829 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 108 78.26%
No3021.74%

Senate vote

April 7, 2013 Senate vote

Maryland SB 829 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 40 85.11%
No714.89%

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

References

  1. Maryland Legislature, "Enrolled Senate Bill 829," accessed April 23, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 San Francisco Chronicle, "Md. voters to decide transportation fund 'lockbox'," October 4, 2014
  3. Maryland Board of Elections, "2014 Statewide Ballot Questions," accessed August 29, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Maryland Department of Legislative Services, "Fiscal and Policy Note," accessed June 17, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Coalition to Protect Maryland’s Transportation Funds, "Factsheet," accessed September 18, 2014 (dead link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Maryland Legislature, "Transportation Trust Fund - Use of Funds," accessed April 23, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Baltimore Sun, "Coalition pushing for 'lockbox' amendment," September 21, 2014
  9. Bethesda Magazine, "With Little Debate, County Democrats Endorse Issue Questions On November Ballot," September 18, 2014
  10. Baltimore Sun, "Rural counties need a transportation lockbox," October 6, 2014
  11. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, "Maryland Voters - OOIDA Supports Question #1," accessed October 22, 2014
  12. Baltimore Business Journal, "Don Fry: Here's why voters should support a constitutional amendment to ban transportation fund raids," August 22, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Maryland Legislature, "Senate Votes," accessed September 22, 2014
  14. Maryland Legislature, "House Votes," accessed September 22, 2014
  15. The Baltimore Sun, "Support a 'lockbox' amendment to protect transportation funds," September 23, 2014
  16. Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, "State ballot questions deserve ‘yes’ votes," October 10, 2014
  17. The Star Democrat, "Vote FOR Questions 1, 2 on Md. ballot," October 19, 2014