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Md. Senate Approves Gas Tax Hike; Measure Goes To Gov. O'Malley

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Gas prices in Maryland are going up. Friday afternoon the State Senate approved the first gas tax hike in two decades.

Monique Griego explains how it will affect what you pay at the pump.

The governor has said the increase is desperately needed to keep the state from falling behind on more road and transit projects, but to a lot of drivers it just means more money out of their pockets.

Gas prices in Maryland are getting pumped up.

"It's going to hurt me, it really is," said Barbara Kozlowski.

With a vote of 27 to 20 Friday, the Senate approved the governor's bill to raise the state's gas tax.

The increase will be phased in, with the first bump of four cents per gallon starting in July. After that, analysts say drivers could pay 13 to 20 cents more a gallon by 2016.

"This is a big blow to the Maryland economy. This is a hard thing for working families to absorb," said Sen. E.J. Pipkin.

The governor says the hike is needed to replenish a dwindling transportation fund. The money will be used to fund mass transit and road projects.

"I would love better roads," said John Hayes. "I've seen too many potholes and I got too many brand new tires because the road's not getting fixed."

The governor's plan raises $4.4 billion over the next six years. In a statement Friday afternoon, he said:

"With the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act today, we will support more than 57,000 jobs, ease traffic congestion and build a 21st century transportation network.

"Maryland has now recovered nearly 95 percent of the jobs lost during the Bush recession, and today's vote will help us put even more families back to work.

"Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Senate President Miller, House Speaker Busch and their colleagues in the General Assembly, Maryland is poised to create jobs and expand opportunity."

"We are not opposed to transit. We think transit's a good thing, but we are opposed to Maryland motorists paying the entire tab," said Peter Horrigan, Pres. Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors.

"It means more money out of my pocket, out of my paycheck," said Kozlowski.

Republicans did try to defeat the bill, but in the end just didn't have enough votes.

The Senate has also already passed a so-called lockbox bill to make sure the money stays in the transportation fund. It now has to go through the House.

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