The Virginia legislature reached a deal Saturday that is expected to provide Metro with a dedicated funding source for the first time, while putting new requirements on Metro to limit budget increases and submit to increased reporting to state officials.
The bill is expected to be sent to the governor for his signature after work by a conference committee that included Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-35th District; Del. Tim Hugo, R-40th District; and Del. Rip Sullivan, D-48th District, along with other members.
"From the start, my position was that a funding package for Metro had to go hand-in-hand with meaningful reforms without raising taxes," Hugo said in a statement Saturday. "This legislation uses existing funds tied to key reforms like cost-reduction measures, better oversight, and WMATA Board governance.”
The bill provides a dedicated funding stream of $154 million per year for Metro.
"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,” said Paul Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager and CEO.
But Virginia’s spending is contingent on Maryland and D.C. reaching a similar dedicated spending arrangement.
“Now that Virginia has met its commitment to Metro, we urge leaders in Maryland and the District to meet their full funding commitment to ensure Metro has $500 million in ongoing, dedicated funding,” said Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “Now is the time act boldly as a region to bring our most critical transportation asset, Metro, to a state of good repair so it can safely and reliably serve our region for decades to come.”
The legislation requires several changes in how Metro is managed, including a 3 percent limit on budget increases, demands for five-year strategic planning and the creation of a Metro Reform Commission.
We'll have more coverage on this breaking news at InsideNoVa.com.