Virginia lawmakers approve $154M in new annual funding for Metro

March 12, 2018
By The 2030 Group

By: Drew Hansen

The final moments of the 2018 General Assembly session in Virginia produced what looks to be a landmark moment for Metro.

State lawmakers approved legislation Saturday to give Metro $154 million a year in permanent funding. The new funding comes with the condition Maryland and the District supply slightly larger contributions to give Greater Washington’s beleaguered transit system up to $500 million in additional annual funding.

“The Virginia General Assembly passed historic legislation that will provide, for the first time, a dedicated funding source for Metro’s safety and reliability programs,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement. “On behalf of all Metro customers and employees, as well as the communities whose economic wellbeing depends on a safe, reliable Metro system, we are truly grateful.”

The dedicated funding would come from $132 million in existing taxes, including the granter’s tax, and redirected money for Northern Virginia transportation improvements, according to WTOP. An additional $22 million would come from a regional gas tax floor, according to the report.

The approved bill was produced after five days of bargaining between Democrats and Republicans, according to The Washington Post.

Some state Republicans came around on the bill following pressure from the local business community, according to the Post. Some of the region’s chamber of commerce organizations see Metro as an essential economic driver and the region and an asset that must be improved as Northern Virginia makes its play, along with Montgomery County and the District, for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“Metro is a vital component of our region’s ability to appeal to leading employers, like Amazon, who might locate to our region, and to attract and retain a talented workforce to power our existing private sector economy,” Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Investment in Metro is an investment in Northern Virginia’s ability to remain the thriving economic and workforce engine of the commonwealth.”

Earlier this month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R, backed a Metro funding bill approved by the state House that gives Metro $150 million a year if Virginia and the District were committed to making the same contributions.

Officials in the District are expected to back whatever the two states decide, according to the Post, as not to risk scuttling a rare regional agreement between the three jurisdictions.

See the full article at the Washington Business Journal