The Purple and Red Lines will benefit all of Maryland
Maryland state senator E.J. Pipkin of Cecil County is drafting legislation to require counties to pay for constructing mass transit projects by themselves without state help. They would still be required to contribute to the state's transportation trust fund as they do now.
While there is something to be said for paying one's own way, the legislation being cosponsored by Frederick County's David Brinkley would be like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
Pipkin's misguided legislation neglects the fact that the Purple Line and the Baltimore Red Line will bring economic development and therefore more tax revenue to the state. Maryland should make investments that increase its tax revenues, not shrink its tax base because of parochial concerns.
From the article:
"If you liveThe solution to having too little transportation money isn't to cut off infrastructure investment in the parts of the state that contribute the most tax revenue. The wealthy urban parts of Maryland never complain about subsidizing rural road projects. The rural parts can't afford to do it on their own. Since we are one state, it has never been an issue whether or not to contribute to the infrastructure and standard of living of the less affluent counties.
— as I do — in a rural area, you don't share those hopes and dreams of mass transit as you have in the urban areas," Pipkin said Monday during a panel discussion on Maryland's economy and infrastructure.
He said the state's rural counties have dire transportation needs that aren't being met by the dwindling pot of state transportation dollars allocated to road and bridge repair.
Then, why does Pipkin want to punish the parts of the state that have benefitted his constituents for so many decades? Demonizing the wealthy parts of the state who aren't represented by members of his political party is political red meat to a large group of his constituents.
I grew up in Cecil County and my parents live in Senator Pipkin's district. Many people from the Upper Eastern Shore think of Baltimore and Washington as far away places that are alien. His legislation would message well to people who view mass transit as an unfamiliar big-city amenity.
However, it's Pipkin's job to represent his district's monetary interests, not to appeal to their misinformed views about the urban parts of Maryland. His constituents will benefit from the tax revenue generated by the economic development from the Purple and Red Lines.
It is also logically inconsistent that Pipkin is targeting light rail projects but not the ICC. Because of the sticker shock from the ICC, the state is considering raising tolls to cross the Baltimore Harbor, the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Why isn't Pipkin decrying the huge chunk of the Maryland transportation budget that is going to constructing the ICC?
Transportation funding in Maryland should not be a parochial argument about roads vs. rails. It's about building infrastructure that is appropriate to the communities it serves as they envision themselves in the future. Senator Pipkin's constituents deserve far-sighted representation that will generate economic development in all of Maryland, benefiting his constituents through increased tax revenue to fund more state services.
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