With the legislature meeting next week for a special session on gambling (and probably pit bulls), Delegate Brian Feldman (D, Mont) and I will be introducing our “End the Gridlock” constitutional amendment to enable the legislature to propose major transportation finance plans to voters in Maryland, as legislatures in many other states can do.
Maryland is #1 in local schools — and in traffic congestion.
It’s past time to fix that but, the traditional approach — convincing a majority of the legislature to raise the gas tax every few years — is obviously and understandably failing.
We need a new approach — and that’s what our “End the Gridlock” amendment is.
The amendment authorizes the governor and the legislature to draw up a specific plan for major public investment in roads, bridges, and transit and present the plan to the voters for approval in a subsequent referendum. Such an approach would be new in Maryland but is common in other states and regions. In the past 3 years, 74 referendums for transportation programs have been approved in 18 states by the voters.
Our proposed constitutional amendment would not prejudge the projects or the revenue sources. Those would be developed by the governor and the legislature, after our constitutional amendment has been passed and ratified. Specific transportation packages would be adopted by the legislature and presented to the voters for approval. Our amendment would simply give the governor and the legislature the authority to present a plan to the voters (the amendment is needed because the constitution currently does not allow such referendums).
It also includes a provision assuring that the funds raised in such a referendum are used only for the purposes approved by the legislature and the voters.
Our “End the Gridlock” constitutional amendment would itself need to be passed by the legislature and approved by the voters. That could be done whenever the legislature agrees to it. But to get it on the ballot in fall 2012, it would need to be passed by the legislature in the upcoming special session. A second special session this year should fight gridlock, not just expand gambling.
For more information, see our letter to Governor O’Malley, my Baltimore Sunoped, and former Governor Parris Glendening’s letter to the editor at www.EndGridlockInMD.com.
If you agree with our idea, let your legislators know.
We can pass the “End the Gridlock” amendment next week and you and your neighbors will be able to vote on it this November.
And, of course, if you disagree or have other ideas, I welcome them!