Two key bills that would vastly improve public disclosure and accountability at the beleaguered Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are currently awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature. Unfortunately, in a recently-released Citizens Union candidate questionnaire, the Governor fails to answer a direct question asking if he supports the bills. Instead, his response appears to punt leadership on the decision to yet another “Special Panel.”
As part of a longer question, the Citizens Union questionnaire directly asks “Do you support S. 6718-C/A.8785-C of 2014…” and “S.7721/A.3944-C”? The Governor’s response includes no mention of these bills:
It is vital that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey fulfill its regional mission. In 2011, at the direction of Governor Christie and myself, the Port Authority undertook a comprehensive review that led to improvements in operations, capital planning, and financial controls. However, it is clear that more remains to be done—as result [sic], in May of this year, we created a bi-state Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority. We charged the panel to review and evaluate reforms of the Port Authority’s mission, structure, management, operations and governance. The panel has already presented an initial status report, and will return to us with a set of comprehensive recommendations for reform by the end of this year.
Given that the Port Authority is a bi-state agency, identical legislation needs to be passed and signed in both New York and New Jersey. This spring, the New York legislature played their part by passing the two New York bills. The two New Jersey bills are now scheduled for the upcoming Assembly State & Local Government Committee hearing, after hitting a roadblock in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Governor Cuomo’s signature on these bills would be a strong show of leadership, and send a clear message to New Jersey and the Port Authority that the time is now to step out in front of this mess.