Senators question reasons for changes made in New York-sponsored legislation, reiterate commitment to move their own bill
TRENTON – Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (both D-Bergen) today said that the Port Authority reform bill scheduled to be voted upon in the New York Legislature tomorrow fails to meet New Jersey’s transportation needs and provide the needed oversight.
“We have serious concerns that the legislation that Governors Cuomo and Christie are pushing not only falls far short of the reforms in the original bill that Democratic and Republican legislators passed unanimously in New Jersey and New York last year, but also severely undermines New Jersey’s ability to ensure that the Port Authority addresses critical transportation needs,” Gordon said.
“We’re not going to hand the keys to the Port Authority over to Andrew Cuomo,” Weinberg said. “We need to make sure that we have a Port Authority hierarchy that is fully committed to expanding trans-Hudson commuter capacity by rebuilding and enlarging the Port Authority Bus Terminal, building a new rail tunnel and expanding Penn Station.”
Gordon and Weinberg expressed concern about a number of specific shortcomings in the proposed Port Authority legislation, including:
- A provision calling for a New York commissioner to replace John Degnan for a two-year term as Port Authority chairman as soon as a new Port Authority CEO is chosen.
- The elimination of provisions calling for the Port Authority chair, CEO and other senior officials to testify when requested before legislative committees in both states.
- The failure to reallocate up to $600 million in discretionary “regional development funds” controlled by the state’s governors, and to eliminate future discretionary funding.
- The elimination of quarterly progress reports and independent oversight on major capital projects to ensure that construction remains on schedule and on budget.
- The failure to clearly establish transportation – and not economic development – as the agency’s core mission.
Gordon and Weinberg reiterated their commitment to hold public hearings, meet with stakeholders, and move their own legislation.
“We owe it to the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey commuters who pay tolls, the hundreds of thousands who use the Port Authority’s airports, and to all the citizens of our state. We have one opportunity to get this legislation right,” Gordon said.