The Senator said he also wants more transparency when it comes to its budget and future financial plans.
“We need to have a serious discussion, of which this address is only a small part, about reining it in, reforming the Port Authority to ensure it once again fulfills its core mission,” Schumer said. Schumer said he wants the Port Authority’s board to review the recommendations and then send it back to Congress so they can make them a permanent part of the agency’s compact.
He said that one of the biggest issues is the way the Port Authority backs projects that really have nothing to do with the Port Authority. In the last decade alone, the Port Authority has spent $800 million on such projects. Even more troubling is that these projects generated absolutely no return for the agency.
Bridgegate turned a watchful eye to the Port Authority and made bright and clear what before was opaque but bubbling under the surface, the Port Authority is on the wrong track,” he said. During so-called Bridgegate, several lanes of the George Washington Bridge were ordered shut down by a Port Authority top official and an aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee.
“In its 10-year capital plan, they propose spending another billion dollars on such projects,” he said. “Let me repeat, another billion dollars in financing projects that won’t net the Port Authority a penny.”Such projects include the Pulaski Skyway and the completion of 3 World Trade Center. NYS tolls and airport fees continue to rise, much to the dismay of commuters. Crain’s New York senior reporter Daniel Geiger said he believes that Schumer’s reform plan “is possible” if more state leaders back it.
Schumer wants both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the commissioners they appoint to the Port Authority to voluntarily give up some of their own power over the organization. However, it’s unlikely either side would agree to such a proposal.
Among the changes Schumer suggested is for the Port Authority’s board of commissioners to pick its executive director and chair, instead of having the two governors split appointments to those positions. Christie made comments earlier this month in which he explained that he and Governor Cuomo are, “the only two people who are elected in either state who have authority over the Port Authority, and I don’t know that people would want to go exclusively to a group of unelected people to be making these decisions regarding tens of billions of dollars.” Schumer hopes for congress to step in.