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Northam says he’ll tweak Va. Metro funding bill

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures as he delivers his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

TYSONS Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam will seek to change the sources of $154 million per year in additional capital funding for Metro that Virginia’s General Assembly approved Saturday in a landmark vote.

On a visit to Northern Virginia Monday, Northam said the level of the funding would remain the same, but he would suggest that the General Assembly provide Metro with funding from other sources rather than diverting much of the funding from other transportation projects.

While Northam did not detail the amendments he will propose in coming weeks, they are not expected to raise additional taxes, but would instead shift funding from sources besides Northern Virginia transportation projects.

The only additional tax funding in the bill passed by the General Assembly in the waning moments of the regular session Saturday is an increase in the regional gas tax.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova gave a big head nod of approval as Northam described his planned amendments. The amendments will be taken up by the General Assembly at the one-day reconvened session in April.

Bulova led a regional Metro Strategy Group last year focused on dedicated funding for Metro that could allow the transit agency to catch up on some deferred maintenance, issue its own bonds at lower interest rates and keep any funding that is unspent from year to year.

Maryland’s General Assembly is advancing similar legislation for that state’s share, and the District expects to pass its dedicated funding bill this spring.

Virginia’s General Assembly will separately return for a special session Northam expects to call in a few weeks to address the two-year budget lawmakers failed to agree on in the 60-day session.

Northam suggested he was hopeful that a budget deal including Medicaid expansion would be reached during that session, well ahead of a July 1 state government shutdown deadline.


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