New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released and endorsed a report issued by the Bi-State Panel on the Future of the Port Authority which calls for reforms to the agency that the governors called “comprehensive and wholesale changes” in a joint statement this evening.
In accepting the report by the panel comprised of three current commissioners of the Port Authority and the chief counsels of each governor, Christie and Cuomo said they are reorganizing the overall operations, leadership and management of the multi-billion dollar organization. They said that the reorganization will “return the Port Authority fully to its original mission – developing and maintaining the world’s largest transportation system and infrastructure.”
Additionally, the governors each vetoed identical legislation approved by the New York and New Jersey Legislatures which calls for increased transparency of the Port Authority. The governors said they “accept and endorse the transparency legislation” “but with some sensible changes to eliminate confusion that would be caused by the bill as currently drafted.” The changes are included in Christie’s Conditional Veto message to the New Jersey Legislature. New York’s governor does not have conditional veto powers.
If approved by the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, the bill as revised by Christie in his Conditional Veto message becomes New Jersey law. Both houses of the New York Legislature will have to pass a new bill that includes Christie’s changes and send it to Cuomo for his signature before it becomes binding. The bill must be passed by both States to be binding on Port Authority.
“Both Governors embrace the spirit and intent of the extensive reforms contained in the omnibus pending legislation, Senate Bill No. 2181 in New Jersey and A3944C/ S7721 in New York. However, to more fully execute on reform in every area of Port Authority operations, management, and transparency, they are asking their respective Legislatures to review the extensive analysis and insights contained in the Special Panel’s report to guide the crafting of broader and more comprehensive reform legislation. Therefore, while neither Governor is approving the legislation as passed, they are urging their respective Legislatures and the Port Authority to work with them to implement the broad reforms package recommended by the Special Panel, recommendations which will mark a new beginning and form a basis for meaningful reform for decades to follow.”
Christie and Cuomo announced the following actions taken to implement to reforms called for the the Bi-State Panel’s report:
· Governors Cuomo and Christie are requesting each and every Commissioner to tender an offer of resignation to be considered by their respective Governor
· Creating a single Chief Executive Officer to replace the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director
· Modifying the Chairperson’s role with the creation of Co-Chairs or a rotating chairmanship between the two states on an annual basis
· Creating a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
· Reforming the Port Authority’s public-records and ethics guidelines, fully consistent with each state’s open public records laws
· Adopting a new Mission Statement to refocus the authority on its original core mission of developing and overseeing regional transportation infrastructure
· Reinstating the Port Authority’s regional leadership role by initiating a comprehensive planning effort in 2015 with a strategic vision focused on expanding and developing new regional transportation capacity
· Investing in the region’s airports in a manner that ensures that these vital facilities are equipped to serve as the gateway to the region for travelers and goods from around the world
· Prudently divesting existing real estate holdings and restricting future real estate investments to those integral to the Authority’s core transportation mission
· Pursuing the construction of a new Port Authority Bus Terminal to meet the increasing requirements of this vital element of the Trans-Hudson transportation network
· Modernizing Port Commerce facilities to increase their efficiency and maximize the potential of the ports as the premier portal for cargo entering the United States
· Seeking an improved operating model for the PATH rail system, including potentially partnering with a third-party operator, to enhance the PATH’s operational performance and reduce its financial deficit
“These changes reflect the need for a profound and necessary reimagining of the Port Authority governing structure, operations, and transparency in its oversight of the world’s largest transportation and commerce network,” said Governor Chris Christie. “Governor Cuomo and I have remained advocates for reform at the Port Authority and are encouraged by these recommendations from the bi-state panel.”
“In May, Governor Christie and I ordered a broad review and evaluation of the Port Authority’s structure, management, operations, and governance to find ways for the Port to better serve both states and improve as a global transportation and commerce hub,” Governor Cuomo said. “The recommendations put forward by the bi-state panel include important reforms to address the Port’s inefficient and outdated governing structure and will help bring new transparency and effectiveness to the agency as it approaches its tenth decade of service. I am pleased by the work and recommendations issued by the bi-state panel, and look forward to a new era for the Port Authority.”