Hogan and Leggett pull out the stops to help Metro and entice Amazon to the county
On a stage normally reserved for large orchestras, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed two bills that could have a major impact on Montgomery County.
One bill Hogan signed gave Metro a dedicated source of funding for the first time. The other bill Hogan signed was a tax incentive package to help bring Amazon’s second headquarters to the White Flint area.
Instead of musicians filling the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, local and state officials from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., were on hand to witness the bills get signed into law.
Under the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority funding bill, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia will pay a combined total of $500 million, said Hogan, who arrived at Strathmore via the Red Line.
Metro will receive the funding each year for the next four years.
He had hoped that the increased funding could have been split four ways, with the federal government paying its share, but that was not to be, Hogan said.
The federal government would not provide additional funding despite the fact that more than 40 percent of Metro riders are federal employees, Hogan noted.
Hogan also signed into law a financial package for Amazon that could bring 50,000 jobs to the area and add $17 billion to Maryland’s economy.
Nicknamed the PRIME Act, the bill Hogan signed to bring Amazon to the region provides “certain Fortune 100 companies tax credits and benefits for up to 10 years” and authorizes a credit against the State income tax for certain income of business entities certified under the program.
By signing these two bills, “We are sending a very clear message that we can work together in a bipartisan way,” Hogan said.
County Executive Ike Leggett thanked Hogan for his efforts and vowed to use the money to benefit the entire region.
“Montgomery County is the economic energizer for the state. We will deliver,” said Leggett.
“I knew we had to go big or go home, and I knew I wasn’t going home.” Leggett said.
Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of WMATA, happily thanked the legislators involved in getting the additional funding. Riders “want it safe and reliable, and they want it now.”
Maryland Senate President Mike Miller explained that all sides made concessions in order to fund Metro, noting that Washington, D.C. increased taxes to pay its share and Northern Virginia convinced the legislators in the rest of the state of the importance of funding the area transportation system.
Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said funding for Metro and Amazon is a “win-win” for the entire state. When the County prospers, more taxes are collected, and therefore, there is more money for Baltimore schools, he noted.
“When Montgomery County succeeds, the rest of the state succeeds. Prince Georges County succeeds. We all do very well together.”
Prior to the signing, Hogan arrived at the Bethesda Metro Station and was briefed on the history and number of riders by Wiedefeld. Hogan shook hands with every Metro employee and many of its riders as he made his way to the train.