Photo by jcolman on Flickr.
The Virginia Senate rejected Governor Bob McDonnell’s attempt to move control of WMATA down to Richmond, but he’s trying again with a budget amendment. Meanwhile, the Maryland Senate didn’t act on Governor O’Malley’s bill that would have set up some good rules and also some bad ones for appointing Maryland board members.
McDonnell wants state law to give him the right to appoint one of Virginia’s voting members to the WMATA Board. But he hasn’t shown that he’ll act in the best interests of the region if he gets the power.
He basically sat out the Congressional budget continuing resolution, where severe cuts to WMATA were being discussed. For three weeks, he dithered and equivocated on whether he would ask Congressional Republicans to keep the needed capital funding for repairs, while almost every other Northern Virginia official stood up for the funding.
Rather than keep pushing legislative sledgehammer solutions, McDonnell could try to work constructively with Northern Virginia leaders. He could have some of his staff work with them more closely to devise solutions and policies. He could make some recommendations on his own and publicize them, to lead by espousing ideas.
But that’s not McDonnell’s approach. Instead, he just says, “give me power because I should have it.” Northern Virginians have been skeptical of this claim, knowing that McDonnell doesn’t consider them his political base and that he has already sought to weight transportation spending away from the Washington region.
Now, he’s submitted his list of budget amendments, including one (#50, on page 23) to seize the Board seat. The legislature should reject this budget amendment, as they did the earlier attempts.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, senators paid attention to advocates’ concerns about a bill to set criteria for WMATA Board appointments. Transit groups praised provisions that would require appointees to be regular riders and disclose how many meetings they attend, but wanted to strip out rules that elected officials couldn’t serve and that set up professional qualifications.
The Senate committee didn’t reach consensus on how to fix the bill before “crossover day,” the deadline to send bills to the House of Delegates. That makes the bill almost certainly dead for this year. There were some good ideas in there, so Governor O’Malley should resubmit it next year without the objectionable elements.