Monday, March 16, 2015

Kean Pushes Bi-Partisan Port Authority Reform

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean stated the following about reforming the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey:
“Now that the New Jersey Senate Democrats have gotten this political game out of their system, I hope that they will join our caucus and New York Senate and Assembly colleagues, who aren’t acting on the dated and incomplete legislation that failed again today.
“We don’t have to start over. We can immediately pass comprehensive, common-ground legislation that I introduced last week to finally reform the maligned Port Authority for commuters and taxpayers. My new bill includes all of the workable provisions from bipartisan sponsors and governors on both sides of the Hudson River. It’s the solution that sponsors and leaders in the New York Senate, Assembly have been waiting for, as they are abandoning the legislation that failed again here today and was outright vetoed by their governor. This is the opportunity for sponsors and leaders in New Jersey to pass complete reform that has a real chance of being signed into law in both states.”
Senator Kean said that he will continue to work with all parties to advance the only chance for Port Authority reform, S-2794:
“I understand the external political pressures that may have led Senator Gordon to walk back his initially supportive and optimistic comments about my common-ground bill, as he continued to push for today’s doomed override vote. As Senator Gordon and I have recently discussed, I welcome his sponsorship of S-2794, which includes all of his workable proposals to the extent that he initially told reporters that my bill is 95 percent his.”
S-2794, as introduced on March 9, 2015, in part:
·        Protects toll paying citizens of New Jersey by ensuring at least six meaningful public hearings with participation from Port Authority commissioners prior to any toll hike;
·        Contains appropriate legislative oversight of the Port Authority by requiring Port Authority officials to testify on important issues upon bipartisan approval of presiding officer and minority leader;
·        Provides for a Chief Ethics Officer and Inspector General to oversee the actions of Port Authority Commissioners and employees;
·        Provides for Governance, Finance and Audit Committees of the Board;
·        Provides for a whistleblower protection program;
·        Requires each commissioner to sign a statement of independence and fiduciary faith to the agency;
·        Prohibits any commissioner from voting on or participating in any discussion or decision if the commissioner or a family member has any “direct or indirect financial involvement;”
·        Establishes the new Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority to ensure appropriate executive management of the Port Authority and to avoid conflicts between the states that have created serious governance issues over the years at PANYNJ;
·        Requires the Port Authority to establish a core mission that focuses on the region’s critical transportation infrastructure needs.  The PANYNJ would not be able to take any action inconsistent with that mission, including the purchase of real estate or the engagement in, real estate development efforts unrelated to its mission;
·         Prohibits the PANYNJ’s capital plan from including any discretionary regional development funds;
·        Requires that the annual report include a list of all real property and a list of all real and personal property disposed of during that period. (The list must contain the price received and the name of the purchaser);
·        Requires a needs assessment of any toll increase to be completed 90 days prior to a vote; and
·        Requires, at a minimum, commissioners, the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, those in policy-making positions, and those earning over $200,000 in total yearly compensation adjusted for inflation annually (about 241 employees) to file financial disclosure statements.

No comments: