ANNAPOLIS — Maryland business leaders are forming a new coalition to combat falling revenues in the state's transportation trust fund, which pays to maintain roads, bridges and rails.

The State Transportation Alliance to Restore the Trust is making its debut in Annapolis on Tuesday, four days after Gov. Martin O'Malley submitted a budget that would drain $100 million from the transportation fund to help plug the fiscal 2012 budget gap.  

O'Malley has been diverting transportation funds to the state budget for years. 

The new coalition was formed by a number of business groups including the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade. 

From the press release:

The START coalition is being formed to protect and enhance transportation funding because:

  • Money from the Transportation Trust Fund has been diverted to the General Fund for decades;
  • Transportation funding is inadequate to address the backlog of transportation projects statewide;
  • Transportation is an essential element in job growth;
  • The Baltimore-Washington area ranks among the worst in the nation for traffic;
  • State elected officials must be educated about the problem and address the crisis now.