New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have rejected proposed legislation aimed at improving accountability at the agency.
The governors announced on Dec. 27 they have accepted comprehensive changes for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recommended by the Bi-State Special Panel including having the agency run by a "chief executive officer" appointed by the Board of Commissioners as well as making it easier for individuals seeking public records.
However, Christie and Cuomo also said in their Saturday night announcement they would veto reform bills proposed in both their respective state legislatures that proposed requiring increased fiduciary responsibilities from all Port Authority members.
The veto threats drew criticism from lawmakers in both states including New Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri, D-Bergen, who issued a statement emphasizing the bipartisan support achieved for the reforms.
"It's appalling and disappointing that these basic common sense bills were not signed into law, especially considering the serious problems we've seen at the Port Authority under these governors," said Vainieri, one of the sponsors of reform legislation. "The Legislatures of New Jersey and New York crossed party lines to pass Port Authority reform. The governors crossed party lines to obstruct it."
Efforts to reform the Port Authority came in the wake of the agency being scrutinized for a September 2013 traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge as possible retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. for not endorsing Christie.
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Deb Gramiccioni expressed support for the management changes Christie and Cuomo are getting behind.
"I fully support transformational reform of the Port Authority executive governance structure, and had urged the Special Panel and their consultants to recommend such structural reform of the agency's executive management," said Gramiccioni in a statement. "The career Port Authority employees are some of the most talented individuals with whom I have ever worked and both they and the public deserve a more efficient and less confusing management structure."