In a last-minute effort to seek support for funding Metro, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposed Thursday a plan to cover the transit agency’s $2 billion budget shortfall, but the proposal was met with sharp criticism.
Hogan’s proposal, presented to Metro’s finance committee by chairman Michael Goldman, calls for D.C., Maryland, Virginia and the federal government to each contribute $125 million until fiscal year 2022. The amount would make up for the $2 billion gap in the agency’s capital budget.
Jack Evans and Corbett Price, who represent D.C. on the transit agency’s board of directors, called the introduction of the resolution “political theater.”
“This is a resolution the District of Columbia 100 percent does not support,” Evans, who wasn’t present for the proposal, said in a telephone interview.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, who presented a proposed $3.1 billion fiscal year 2019 budget, said the proposal offers a solution.
“There’s obviously differing opinions going forward with this,” he said during a press conference. “I thought Governor Hogan’s proposal was something real and put on the table.”
Goldman, who represents Montgomery County in Maryland, acknowledged the state may not be able to provide any dedicated funding until after next year’s gubernatorial election.
“It’s simply not going to happen in time for us to adopt a budget for FY19, which has to be done by March or at the latest April, according to the general manager,” he said.
Goldman also admitted the measure would not only be a mere short-term fix, but “we have to cover the gap on the capital budget side … so the only way to do that is for the jurisdictions to come up with that money as cash on hand.”
Because of opposition from some members, including Christian Dorsey, who represents Arlington County, Virginia, the resolution was tabled.
Meanwhile, David Horner, who represents the federal government on the board, explained afterward that the transit agency must rethink its model of operation, comparing it to being “a Sears Roebuck in the era of Amazon.”
“At the end of the day, I don’t see the benefit to anyone asking for a sense of the board at this time,” Horner said. “What we need to do is dial down the political temper. When tempers are cooler, we collaborate better and reach consensual decisions that will put the system on the right trajectory.”
Regarding Hogan’s plan, Horner said, “I think the feds would be prepared to increase their funding of the system if they have confidence the system is right-footed operationally and has adopted a sustainable, operating model. They won’t just write checks for the status quo.”