Star Democrat: Sen. Pipkin bashes MdTA on toll hikes

EASTON State Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-36-Upper Shore, is mad Maryland drivers using most Maryland toll bridges, tunnels and highways began paying much higher fees starting Tuesday as the result of the Maryland Transportation Authority board’s decision to almost double the tolls.

“It’s deplorable that the unelected and unaccountable MdTA is allowed to raise the tolls at will and without a vote from the General Assembly,” said Pipkin in a Tuesday press release. “And they won’t stop here. You can bet they will continue to raise the tolls over the next few years.”

Pipkin said MdTA added insult to injury by not even allowing public comment at the final meeting when the drastic hike was approved. The MdTA board members are not elected, but are appointed by and answer to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Pipkin said the governor continues the assault on Maryland motorists by supporting taxes and fees aimed at drivers. The O’Malley’s Blue Ribbon Commission recently recommended a 15-cent a gallon tax increase, a 50-percent increase in vehicle registration fees, doubling the vehicle emissions test fee from $14 to $28 and increasing the titling tax.

“The average Marylander will soon not be able to afford to drive to work”, said Pipkin in a statement.

Pipkin plans to introduce a package of bills in January requiring the General Assembly approve any toll increase, in the same manner that that the state’s legislative body approves taxes. During this fall’s speical assembly session, Pipkin introduced bills to terminate the MdTA board entirely, but they failed to go up for a vote.

“There needs to be checks and balances in the process, especially when you’re targeting Marylanders’ checkbooks,” Pipkin said in a statement.

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