Port Authority Reform on the Horizon
With the support of Citizens Union’s advocacy, the New York State Legislature passed two important pieces of legislation to reform the authority in June, and earlier this month, identical legislation was passed in New Jersey’s state legislature (reforming the authority requires changes to the law in both states). CU, with good government and transportation colleagues, issued a statement urging Governors Cuomo and Christie to sign both bills into law. The bills are expected to be sent to Governor Cuomo imminently for a decision.
Reforming the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been on our priority list this year following the scandal of the closing of the George Washington Bridge in 2013. CU’s State Affairs Committee worked in early 2014 to develop a position statement on reforming the authority to restore public confidence, including reforms to improve the management of the authority, increase transparency, and ensure strong ethics standards. The bills intend to align the Port Authority governance and conflicts of interest policies to those reforms enacted several years ago for the state’s own public authorities.
The Port Authority was created in the spirit of bi-state cooperation, and owns and manages some of the most significant infrastructure assets in our region — bridges, bus facilities, tunnels, the PATH, ports, airports, and the World Trade Center site. Once known for its professional handling in building important infrastructure projects, it it has been mired recently due to internal divisions and patronage.