Christie, Cuomo back measure to overhaul Port Authority
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A stalled effort to overhaul the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey received a jolt Thursday when Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo announced their support for a new measure.
The governors in December vetoed a bill passed unanimously in both states' legislatures, angering many lawmakers. Instead, the governors called for enacting reforms put forward by their own bistate commission.
They said the new legislation, introduced in New York, is comprehensive and accomplishes the changes legislators want.
Among other features, the proposal would replace the authority's executive director and deputy with a new chief executive, rotate the chairmanship every two years between the two states and prohibit the chairman or commissioners from also holding staff positions.
Both states must enact the legislation to effect an overhaul.
New York legislative leaders and the Democratic governor said they're in agreement on the proposal. Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the legislation should improve regulation and transparency at the agency, which operates airports, tunnels, bridges and ports in the region.
Christie, a Republican, and New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. called on Democrats, who control the Legislature, to pass the new proposal immediately. Kean offered a proposal earlier this year that was rejected in New Jersey but ultimately helped form the basis for the new proposal, Christie said.
Other key lawmakers in New Jersey were skeptical. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said the two-year rotating executive is a sticking point for her because New York would take control of the post in August under the proposal.
Weinberg and New Jersey Democratic state Sen. Bob Gordon worried that the Port Authority bus terminal might become a lower priority than revitalizing LaGuardia airport.
"I find it a little bit surprising that six months after vetoing the bill that had been agreed to unanimously by all four houses of the two states, both governors suddenly came up with a new bill that is being rushed through the New York legislature that I was apprised of approximately 48 hours ago," Weinberg said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Gordon said he expects to work through the summer to work out differences with New York's lawmakers and governor.
"As much as we want these reforms, we don't want to do damage to New Jersey either," he said.