SO FAR, the state legislators from Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- who are seeking approval of a plan to help pay for Metro -- have kept their act together quite well in Annapolis. Since paying an early visit on then-Gov.-elect Harry R. Hughes, the two delegations have worked up a most reasonable state-sales-tax proposal that would benefit not only their own counties, but localities throughout Maryland. It deserves the understanding and support of Gov. Hughes as well as all members of the General Assembly who support some property relief for their constituents.
The proposal is the product of a series of meetings the legislators held last week that culminated in a session with Lt. Gov. Samuel W. Bogley. It calls for refunding one-half cent of the state sales tax to each county in Maryland, according to the amount yielded by each county. Montgomery and Prince George's then could use those refunds for Metro payments and other counties could use the money to ease the burden of property taxes if they so decided. In addition, the measure contains a proposal to designate revenues from another one-half cent of the sales tax for state transportation payments, which would also provide money for the state to pay its share of Metro's construction bill over the next six years. Operating costs would be divided equally between the state and the two counties.
So this is not a request for a local handout, special treatment or an increase in a tax rate. On the contrary, it is a sensible response to the tax burdens and transportation needs of people throughout the state -- transit, roads, railroads, ports, Baltimore's subway and what-have-you.Gov. Hughes and responsible members of the General Assembly should recognize the importance of the proposal and see to it that the measure is enacted this year.