01/09/2012 09:30 am ET Updated Jan 09, 2012

Maryland Gas Tax Could Rise; Such A Hike Unlikely In Virginia, D.C.

WASHINGTON -- If you had to place bets on whether drivers in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia will pay higher gas taxes in their respective jurisdictions, there's only one place where you'd have decent odds.

In Maryland, lawmakers gearing up for the 2012 legislative session may end up considering a plan from Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to hike the state's 23.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

While the governor has not yet said for sure whether he'll include a gas tax increase in his forthcoming fiscal plan, O'Malley has said his administration is considering such an idea, which has been endorsed by a commission studying the state's fiscal health.

As the Gazette noted late last week, O'Malley will lay out his fiscal blueprint to the General Assembly later this month.

If lawmakers are going to pass a gas-tax hike, the political window to get it done closes after the upcoming legislative session ends. Raising taxes in advance of state elections in 2014 would likely be a tough sell for lawmakers. But it could be a tough sell this year, too.

As WTOP reports, Virginia's gas tax, set at 17.5 cents per gallon, hasn't been raised in more than a quarter century. But Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) wants to change that. A hike in the state's gas tax could help close a $1 billion budget deficit and fund infrastructure improvements. However, the delegate admits that his plan is unlikely to gain much traction since Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is firmly against raising any taxes.

In the District of Columbia, it's highly unlikely the D.C. Council will consider higher gas taxes. As the Examiner reported late last month, Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who previously pushed a plan to increase the city's gas tax to pay for Metro improvements, said such an idea now is pretty much a political non-starter.