Appearing before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee, Miller said his proposed legislation to raise money for transportation was intended as a menu of options for Gov.
He said that his bill is intended to jump-start the discussion and that he isn't wedded to any particular provision as long as the state finds a way to pay for new roads, bridges and mass transit.
"It's not just a quality-of-life issue. It's an issue of economic development," Miller said. "It's not just a problem, it's a crisis."
Also testifying were Baltimore Mayor
"We can't kick the can down the road. We can't wait for next year or the year after that," Baker said. He noted that his county is competing with Virginia — where lawmakers are considering a transportation revenue package — to be the site of the
By 2018, Miller warned, there will be no money available in Maryland's transportation budget for highway expansion projects unless new revenue is found.
His bill seeks to address rural legislators' long-standing concern about the high cost of mass transit by allowing the formation of regional transit authorities in urban areas that would have the power to raise taxes for major projects.
While the O'Malley administration has not taken a position on Miller's legislation, the Transportation Department in written testimony called the creation of transit authorities "a concept that merits consideration."
That provision was criticized Tuesday by House
"The Republicans have simply said 'no, no, no, no,'" Miller said.
While Republicans on the Senate committee did not embrace the transit authority proposal, neither did they reject it.
"We want to be part of the solution. We have some real problems here," said Sen.
Miller's effort drew praise from Maryland business leaders, especially those involved in construction.
"The General Assembly has to act. That is essentially why you were put in office," said Champe McCulloch, representing the Associated General Contractors.