Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said that New Jersey Democrats’ latest announcement that they are continuing to delay overdue legislation to reform the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is putting taxpayers and commuters at risk.
Months ago, Kean’s S-3048 was sponsored and passed on a bipartisan basis in New York and needs to get done in New Jersey before it can take effect.
“With New York’s passage of this bill and Gov. Christie’s commitment to sign it into law, Trenton Democrats are the lone obstructers of this reform for the people ― a bill that would stop the Port Authority from wasting or wantonly increasing the billions of dollars the public agency takes each year from hard-working commuters and taxpayers,” Kean said. “As PANYNJ faces the responsibility of executing major multi-billion-dollar projects, such as the Gateway Tunnel, leaders of the public agency are looking for New Jersey to finish the job on bipartisan reform measures that will define their operational structure, development parameters, and levels of transparency and accountability going forward.”
Senator Kean pointed out that New Jersey Democrats were against a core mission of transportation for the Port Authority ― a provision in his original hybrid bill ― before they were for it.
“We have the responsibility and opportunity to protect taxpayers and commuters now, without delay,” Kean said.
Here are some key provisions within Senator Kean’s S-3048:
- Codifies a new management structure including a new Chief Executive Officer to replace the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director; and rotating the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson between New York and New Jersey every two years, beginning with New York;
- Prohibits a Commissioner, including the Chairperson, from serving as the Port Authority’s Chief Executive Officer or as any other officer while serving as a Commissioner;
- Establishes a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer who shall enforce compliance with applicable laws and best practices, bolstering the authority of the Port Authority’s Inspector General, and establishing a whistle blower access and assistance program;
- Requires Commissioners to execute a statement declaring their fiduciary obligation to exercise independent judgment and act in the best interest of the Port Authority, its mission, and the public;
- Adopts a Port Authority mission statement designed to meet the critical transportation infrastructure needs of the bi-state region by providing the highest quality and most efficient transportation and port commerce facilities and services to move people and goods within the region, provide access to the nation and the world, and to promote economic development;
- Establishes a clear recusal policy to prevent conflicts of interest, requiring Commissioners, officers, and certain employees to file financial disclosures, and requiring all Commissioners, officers, and employees to maintain records regarding contact with lobbyists;
- Requires public notice of Port Authority meetings and that such meetings be open to the public;
- Requires the Port Authority to conduct an independent needs assessment and public hearings before raising tolls and fares; and
- Establishes enhanced annual reports, financial audits, and public availability of the Port Authority’s capital plan, financial plans and property disposition.