When the board of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority approved a major toll hike last year, members said it was in part to help finance reconstruction of the World Trade Center.
When a bond covenant later turned out to prove that statement untrue, Democrats in Trenton passed a bill — with significant Republican support — demanding more transparency at the Port Authority.
“We are stating the intent of this legislature that we want stronger financial management, more accountable financial management and certainly more transparent management,” said Sen. BobGordon.
Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill in June. He says it should apply to the entire so-called shadow government of multi-county and bi-state agencies, like the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.
Tomorrow Senate Democrats will attempt to override that veto, but this time they’re unlikely to have any Republican support.
“What I hope we can do tomorrow is not override his veto to make it a much more limited oversight of only one agency or we can expand both the openness and the oversight so we can have all these multiple agencies and have even more oversight,” Sen. Tom Kean said. “So I would support the governor’s efforts to expand the scope of the bill.”
It takes a two-thirds majority to override a governor’s veto, so the 24 Senate Democrats would need three Republican votes.
“I’m an optimist,” said Gordon. “If they give us the 27 votes it’ll be the first time we’ve overridden a Chris Christie veto.”
Port Authority Chairman David Samson told The Record editorial board yesterday the PA has made great strides towards transparency lately. He feels a legislative mandate is unnecessary.
But transparency act sponsor Bob Gordon says he wants to make sure that after Samson and others leave, best practices survive. And he said the governor’s efforts to expand the scope of the bill to cover other agencies is just a ruse, because for Port Authority legislation to be effective, an identical bill must pass the New York state legislature.
“I mean, he knew that by adding that language he was killing the process,” Gordon said. “And I really feel it was a hoax.”
Two other bills on the Senate floor tomorrow deserve mention. The Jessica Lunsford Act would mandate a 25-year minimum prison sentence for sexual assault of a child. It’s based on a Florida crime. And the Health Benefit Exchange Act would set up a mechanism for New Jerseyans to obtain health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act.
Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron reports from Fair Lawn.