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Md. legislative leaders say gas tax a tough sell

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm •  Published: January 4, 2013

"Nobody wants to go through that pain, politically, twice," Kasemeyer said.

House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and Stacy Mayer, Gov. Martin O'Malley's new chief legislative officer, also were on the panel.

Busch kicked it off by showing how much Maryland's population increased between 2000 and 2010, particularly in the suburbs of the nation's capital where traffic congestion has become a concern to economic development.

The speaker said a major revenue increase for transportation would take nearly universal support from lawmakers who represent the state's largest jurisdictions.

"We need to get to 71," Busch said, referring to the number of votes needed to pass a bill in the House of Delegates. "You need everyone in Montgomery County. You need everyone in Prince George's County. You need Baltimore city. You need part of Baltimore County, if you're going to accomplish this."

Mayer avoided mention of details by the executive branch to raise transportation revenue this session during her opening remarks, a point that was raised by Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal, who asked about the omission during a question and answer period.

"We're really, really looking to the governor and to the leadership on this issue," Leventhal said.

Mayer underscored that O'Malley understands the need, and she said discussions about how to address the problem are ongoing.

"He does believe absolutely that it's needed, and the question is whether or not there is a will to get it passed," Mayer said.