Gov. Wes Moore will hold off on proposed cuts to Maryland’s transportation budget — at least for now — he announced Tuesday morning.

Maryland will divert $150 million from the state’s general fund to shore up the state Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2025, but did not offer a multi-year outlook for a six-year budget shortfall estimated at roughly $3.3 billion.

“This is a season of discipline, and our choices must reflect our priorities. Our budget helps grow our economy, and our transportation budget is essential to that mission,” said Moore. “By providing a critical funding bridge, we’re helping Maryland’s working families continue to have access to places where they work, places where they learn, and other essential destinations.”

The measure comes roughly a month after transportation officials sent shockwaves through the state by announcing the transportation shortfall as the state hurdles toward a $761 million fiscal cliff for its general fund.

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Moore did not offer a clear picture of where the $150 million will be siphoned out of or how this will impact the state’s finances more broadly.

Before the stopgap measure, proposed cuts would have sliced MDOT’s operating budget for FY25 by $184 million and its capital expenditures by $128 million. The shuffling of funds will restore $85 million for the operating budget and $65 million for capital expenses.

During a sit-down conversation with Baltimore Banner Editor in Chief Kimi Yoshino Tuesday morning, Moore set the stage for the transportation challenge that state lawmakers will face for years to come.

He highlighted Maryland as the only state that funds two major transit systems in the MTA and its partial funding of the Washington, D.C. Metro. And he noted the shift toward both electric and more fuel efficient vehicles as a wake-up call for the state motor fuel tax.

“We’ve got to fix the way we do transportation in this state,” Moore said at the legislative policy forum hosted by The Banner. “You cannot have economic mobility without physical mobility.”

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“Thanks to Gov. Moore’s leadership, we will be able to restore funding for next year to some of our most vital transportation services,” said Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld. “These resources will benefit Marylanders in rural, urban, and suburban areas, making sure that MDOT is able to provide for the residents who depend on these programs the most.”

The announced funding includes:

  • $52 million to fully restore Highway User Revenue funding — this is the portion of state motor fuel tax that Baltimore and Maryland’s counties and municipalities receive to maintain their roads and bridges
  • $26 million to fully restore Locally Operated Transit System operating grants, including about $17.3 million for Montgomery County’s local bus service and $4.8 million for Prince George’s County
  • $28 million in Maryland Transit Administration commuter bus funding to maintain service on the highest ridership routes
  • $15 million for critical state of good repair needs at the Maryland Transit Administration to meet the required funding levels under the Transit Safety and Investment Act
  • $10 million in State Highway Administration highway mowing and litter removal
  • $8 million in MARC Brunswick Line operating resources to maintain service frequencies to West Virginia and to launch a new midday service pilot
  • $5 million in MDOT-wide information technology and cybersecurity upgrades
  • $4 million in Motor Vehicle Administration operating dollars to maintain branch hours including limited service branches
  • $2 million in Maryland Aviation Administration priority contractual services to retain key operations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

Wiedefeld acknowledged that a long-term solution for the state’s transportation funding woes is part of a larger discussion that is far from over. The Maryland Commission for Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs began meeting last year to brainstorm new ways to fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, filled in part by declining motor fuel tax revenues. The commission made preliminary recommendations in December and will continue its work in 2024.

“This is trying to address some immediate concerns we heard from across the state,” said Wiedefeld of the temporary infusion.

MTA commuter bus service faced the chopping block, with the cuts proposed back in December, saving the agency about $64 million in operating costs. Wiedefeld said the agency has yet to determine which commuter bus routes will be spared by the partial restoration worth $28 million.

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When announcing the proposed cuts in December, Wiedefeld had said that core Baltimore transit service, including CityLink bus lines and the now-restored light rail, would not be affected.

And though the money will ensure MDOT remains legally compliant for funding to keep MTA vehicles and infrastructure in good working order, the state still faces a roughly $1.8 billion state of good repair backlog that will continue to balloon if not addressed.

Maryland Sen. Cory McCray called the short-term plan a “step in the right direction.”

“With this one-year fix, it is incumbent upon us to continue to amplify our voices for our children’s future and recognize that our advocacy is a marathon and not a sprint,” he said.

“I am hopeful that the Administration will continue to prioritize the concerns of those on the frontline and develop an equitable long-term solution to address the MDOT budget proposal.”