Jan. 26, 2012
With the likelihood that the General Assembly will be asked to double, triple, or even quadruple fees paid by Maryland’s citizens for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, Del. Wendell Beitzel filed House Bill 121. The bill would amend the Maryland State Constitution to prohibit, or “lock down,” the transfer of funds from the two major sources of revenue for bay cleanup efforts in the state.
The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund was established in 2004 for the purpose of providing funds for bay cleanup, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, cover crop funds, and septic system upgrades. One of the sources of funding is an annual fee, which has popularly been called the “flush tax.”
“Each year, Maryland’s citizens are required to pay for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay,” Beitzel said. “This bill simply provides that if citizens are told that the fees they are paying are dedicated for bay restoration, then government should be required to use the funds only for this purpose.”
During the 2011 General Assembly session, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget transferred $290 million from the Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays’ 2010 Trust Fund into the state’s general fund. The funds are to be replenished with general obligations bonds, which require additional interest costs and limits the amount of bond funds available for other state capital projects, according to Beitzel.
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