Why Blue States Need To Stop Electing Red Governors: The Metro Edition

Someone leaked a private, off-the-record discussion about funding the D.C. Metro, and it doesn’t make Maryland Governor Paul Hogan look good (boldface mine):

Contrary to the public display of goodwill for the media after a closed-door meeting last week, the region’s top three elected officials clashed sharply over Metro funding, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) saying the transit agency would get no additional money from his state…

The lack of agreement among the leaders over how to meet Metro’s financial needs makes it increasingly unlikely the region will come up with the additional money that General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld says is necessary by next July to keep the system safe and reliable. The only other options, Wiedefeld told the meeting, are significant fare increases and service cuts beyond those customers have already experienced.

The summit discussion, according to people who attended or were briefed on it, was contentious and alarming to Metro’s supporters. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was sufficiently concerned that he instructed the several dozen officials and staff attending that no one leak what was said to the media. If Hogan’s comments and other disagreements became public, McAuliffe warned, there would be no hope Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature would support Metro with additional money as he desires.

At one point, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned Hogan that without additional money, Metro would have to reduce spending by an amount equal to the cost of running an entire Metro line. Hogan suggested a line might be privatized, officials said.

Hogan said Maryland could not afford to give Metro more money and flatly ruled out asking the legislature or counties to raise taxes to do so.

Wiedefeld was described as visibly disturbed by Hogan’s overall comments and the ensuing debate…

But Hogan spoiled his counterparts’ expectations. He has previously opposed giving more money to Metro but spoke so forcefully on Monday that an official who received briefings about the session likened the effect to “throwing a bomb into the room.”

Another official, who was present, said Hogan “was very adamant that he was not going to use his political capital for Metro.”

…Hogan also cast doubt on the idea that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — the Maryland suburbs served by Metro — would raise taxes on their own to support the transit system. If referendums were held in the two counties, Hogan told the summit, residents would vote 70 percent to 30 percent against a new levy.

It’s unclear where Hogan got the figures he cited. His forecast is at odds with a Washington Post -University of Maryland poll in March. The poll found 55 percent of Montgomery residents and 44 percent in Prince George’s support a regional sales tax for Metro, although differences were within the survey’s margin of sampling error.

Hogan’s position springs from long-standing convictions and political considerations. A fiscal conservative, he campaigned in 2014 against higher taxes and in favor of shifting resources from transit to roads. His political base is in rural and outer suburban counties that are not directly served by rail transit.

First, this would be a disaster for Metro. If this does come to pass, we need to tear up the funding compact. D.C. would be able to put more money into Metro–and then the rail lines should focus on the shorter routes (e.g., most Red Line trains should run between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring), especially to Maryland. Likewise, Metro could cut back–or completely eliminate the Maryland-only bus routes.

Second, this is why Democrats fuck themselves when they vote for ‘moderate Republicans’–or think there isn’t much difference between supposed moderate Republicans and Democrats. Under his pleasant surface, Hogan is like any other conservative, in that he invents facts (70% oppose a new Metro tax). No Democrat would think of privatizing an entire Metro line (and there’s no reason to think would that save any money). Needless to say, putting more resources into car driving isn’t going to lessen the threat of global warming either.

In 2018, Maryland Democrats need to find a winning candidate, show up to the polls, and beat Hogan–like a drum.

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1 Response to Why Blue States Need To Stop Electing Red Governors: The Metro Edition

  1. EMD says:

    Especially show up to polls. As a resident of Takoma Park, I was ashamed to see that the lowest-turnout jurisdictions were Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, and Baltimore City. People tried explaining by not being “excited” by Anthony Brown, who ran against Hogan. WTF? You know what excites me, not having a Republican as governor.
    Sure, Larry Hogan (I wish Paul Hogan were governor…) is about as reasonable Republican as one can get. But that’s such a low bar that I think the only reason some people wanted fracking in Maryland was so that we could get a drill deep enough to find that bar. But, you know what, elections have consequences.

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