Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that the report on Metro he commissioned from former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood will be officially released Tuesday.
The Washington Post obtained and published the study this month, but the formal rollout will include supporting documents explaining why LaHood believes his proposal to replace the Metro board with a smaller “reform board” is legally possible without amending the Metro Compact. The compact spells out how the agency is governed and financed.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) supports the reform board in principle but has said it would require amending the compact, a lengthy and burdensome process. McAuliffe (D) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) agree with LaHood that the board structure could be changed without reopening the compact.
The report’s official release also is expected to prompt the Transportation Department to provide its first public comment on the proposal.
LaHood concluded that Metro needs an additional $500 million a year in dedicated funding, but he did not address the politically charged question of what kind of tax or other mechanism should be used to provide it.
He also proposed that all 16 members of the Metro board resign, to be replaced temporarily by a five-member board that would aggressively pursue an overhaul.
So far the LaHood plan has drawn a mixed response, with the Hogan administration offering strong objections. Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn told The Post this week that he needed to see a more detailed, “bottom-up” analysis of Metro’s finances before he would agree that the transit agency needs as much additional money as LaHood and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld have requested.
By contrast, McAuliffe strongly supports the proposal.
Appearing Wednesday on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor,” McAuliffe reaffirmed that the state budget he will propose in December will include dedicated funding to raise Virginia’s share of the additional $500 million sought by Metro.
“It’s in my budget,” McAuliffe said. “Virginia is taking care of its responsibility. . . . It’s going to be contingent on a reform board, and it’s going to be contingent on the other jurisdictions coming up with their share of the money.”
Bowser supports the reform board, but only on the condition that it’s linked to a long-term, dedicated funding. Hogan has declined to make that commitment, proposing instead a four-year, $2 billion injection of additional money.
McAuliffe said he hopes Hogan and Bowser will attend the release event at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Hall of States in the District.
There have been differing accounts about why the report’s release has been delayed. The McAuliffe administration said LaHood has been free to release it at his discretion. McAuliffe said he expected it to be released while he was away on a trade mission in Europe starting Nov. 8.
But LaHood said from the beginning that he wanted the report to be released at a press event, presumably with McAuliffe present. He said there was a delay while his staff and McAuliffe’s were trying to agree on how to release it.
In addition, LaHood said he wanted to have final meetings with Hogan, Bowser and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao “to review the report and test the temperature.”
He has met with Chao and DOT Deputy Secretary Jeffrey A. Rosen, and had a half-hour phone conversation with Bowser and her staff. He has requested a meeting or phone conversation with Hogan, but none has been scheduled.
He and Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne declined to say how much LaHood is expected to be paid for the report, which was commissioned in March.