BY TOM HESTER SR.
The Assembly Transportation Committee will consider a four-bill package Thursday that would increase oversight and transparency at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Officials of the bi-state agency also have been invited to testify before the panel on the authority’s operations.
Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), the committee chairman, said the hearing is necessary in light of what he described as an increasingly alarming series of news reports on the agency’s actions and operations.
“As various news reports have indicated, we have in the Port Authority a multi-billion dollar bi-state agency funded by tolls and taxpayer dollars more or less operating with no outside oversight,” Wisniewski said. “With reports of toll hikes not being used for their state purpose, ridiculous levels of perks for authority retirees and an overtime ledger in the tens of millions of dollars, the Democratic members of the Transportation Committee are very concerned that we have an out-of-control agency living high on the hog at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers and commuters.”
The hearing also follows a report in The Record of Hackensack that 50 Republicans with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie have found jobs at the Port Authority since he took office in January 2010. Their salaries and benefits total $4 million. The governor has also vowed to get tough concerning the agency’s finances.
The four-bill package includes A-1011, the “Port Authority Transparency and Accountability Act; A-1247, which imposes restrictions on authority officials and employees regarding gifts and compensation, and A-2166, which requires Legislative approval of the decisions of the authority’s commissioners. Presently, only the governors of New Jersey and New York can approve or veto the decisions.
The hearing is set for 10 a.m. in the Statehouse Annex in Trenton.