Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing an additional $125 million for the D.C. Metro but there’s a catch: Virginia, the District of Columbia and the federal government all must commit to match Maryland’s efforts.
Hogan, in a letter Monday, repeated criticisms regarding the safety and reliability of the Metro system as well as concerns for its financial management. And he rejected a proposal for a regional sales tax to pay for upgrades, saying the state has paid “more than our fair share.”
Hogan said that a four-way commitment to provide $125 million from each jurisdiction over four years would satisfy the needs of the system, as outlined by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“There is absolutely no separation between us on how critical Metro is and that action needs to be taken to guarantee its short-term and long-term future,” Hogan wrote. “However, there is very clear separation between us on how we collectively meet this $500 million funding challenge.”
In his letter, Hogan notes that 23 percent of the system’s riders come from Maryland — a number just slightly higher than Virginia. The majority of users, about 55 percent, live in Washington. More than 40 percent of all riders are federal employees, Hogan wrote.
“When comparing each jurisdiction’s investments over the past three years, and by any other logical measure, Maryland has been paying not only our fair share but actually more than our fair share,” Hogan wrote.
The governor estimated that the state has provided $1.4 billion over his administration and increased funding by more than 12 percent over the same period of time.
Hogan’s letter appears to reverse his position of a week ago following a closed-door meeting between himself, Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. Hogan sent his letter to the pair.
Last week, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp called on the governor to find a way to help improve the system.
“The Purple Line is great but if we don’t have Metro Red Line and Green Line in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, our economy will suffer very, very significantly,” Kopp said during last week’s Board of Public Works meeting. “It’s the major commuter service now for our citizens going into the city.”
The Washington Post reported that Metro officials said the additional support was needed to continue to upgrade the system otherwise, it would be necessary to increase fares and eliminate service.
The paper reported that Hogan told his Democratic counterparts that the state would not provide increases and that the governor suggested that the line be privatized.
Neither McAuliffe’s nor Bower’s spokespeople responded to requests for comment.
Hogan, in his letter, said a plan to create what he called “a massive regional sales tax” to pay for the system was a nonstarter.
Bowser backs a proposal to institute a 1 cent sales tax in each of the three jurisdictions that would be earmarked for Metro. The proposal could raise as much as $500 million annually, according to some projections.
Hogan, in his letter, called it “a regressive tax, which disproportionately hurts the poorest of our citizens.”
Hogan, who ran a successful 2014 campaign on a platform of opposing tax increases, said he opposed the proposal — a position he also made clear in comments last week.
“It appears that the chair of the WMATA board and the mayor of D.C. want $15 billion in new taxes and we’re not really interested in that and neither is Virginia,” Hogan said last week. “I’m pretty sure that (taxes) is not a popular thing in Maryland or Virginia, so it’s probably not going to happen.”