The tax on gasoline that Gov. Martin O’Malley officially proposed on Tuesday faces strong opposition in Elkridge.
At the on Washington Boulevard, dealer Keith Madsen has already collected approximately 750 signatures from people against the tax, which would add a 6 percent increase on the price of motor fuel over a three-year period.
"Prices are already up," said Madsen, who said government was trying to hit taxpayers in areas they couldn't do without. The increase would add approximately 21 cents a gallon in three years, he noted. "It's just so unfair."
The governor said the tax outlined in the Maryland Transportation Financing and Infrastructure Investment Act of 2012 was essential to keeping the state and its transit systems running.
"This legislation will allow us to support 7,500 new jobs building needed roads, bridges and public transit throughout our state,” said O’Malley in a press release on Feb. 14.
The taxes would generate an additional $613 million in revenue, according to the release.
Madsen said he doesn't believe the tax money will go to the infrastructure that most Marylanders use, which is roads. He said the bulk of funding goes to BWI Airport and the Port of Baltimore (which he believed could support themselves) and the light rail (which he said was not breaking even).
“The government is trying to ride out the recession on the backs of taxpayers,” said Madsen.
Madsen joins business owners around Maryland who say they are concerned the proposed tax could have a devastating impact on the economy.
The Howard County Chamber of Commerce, which represents business owners, said it is watching the issue.
“While the Howard County Chamber of Commerce recognizes the need for transportation funding and improvements, it is important that legislators consider the business climate for Maryland companies and their employees,” said Sandy Alexander, spokeswoman for the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, in an email to Patch.
"Our legislative staff and committee will review the legislation that was introduced today and evaluate the full range of ways it may impact the business community in Howard County and the state," said Alexander on Feb. 14.
Madsen, who has run the Elkridge gas station since 1972, put up signs at each pump so customers could see how the price of gas has changed over the past 40 years he's been in business.
There's also a sign taped on the door to the station's store asking people to "please sign our petition."
Madsen is a member of the Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (WMDA), which has put together a petition that stations around the state are using.
On Feb. 12, Madsen put a sign out near Route 1 inviting people to come in and sign the gas tax petition, and the response, he said, has been positive.
"A lot of people say, 'How can you stop it?'" said Madsen of the gas tax.
Holding more than 30 pages filled with signatures, he said: "This is how you stop it."
Madsen and other members of the WMDA plan to show up for a hearing on the gas tax in Annapolis with their petitions. The hearing date has yet to be announced.
In the meantime, he encourages people to visit the Elkridge to sign the petition. "I don't care if they buy anything," said Madsen. "We just need them to stop in and sign. We need everyone."
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the total over three years if the price of gas remains the same will be a 21-cent increase in gas taxes.