Newark - In light of tomorrow's vote by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a proposal to drastically increase tolls and fares that would disproportionately affect New Jerseyans. In a letter to Governor Christie, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) urged Christie to veto the proposal and have the Port Authority undergo an independent audit to show exactly why they believe such prohibitive toll and fare increases are necessary at this time.
FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER:
Dear Governor Christie,
As you know, the Port Authority is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a proposal to drastically increase tolls and fares. I am writing to request that you veto this extraordinary increase and have the Port Authority undergo a thorough audit to show exactly why they believe such prohibitive toll and fare increases are necessary at this time. New Jerseyans are already suffering through a 25 percent NJ Transit fare increase and will soon have to endure a second toll increase on the Turnpike and the Parkway. A complete audit is the best way to ensure that the Port Authority comes back to the table with more reasonable options.
The Port Authority needs to undergo a full, independent audit that provides answers to New Jersey commuters' questions. The audit should explain how the Port Authority suddenly found itself in such a financial hole and what costs or dips in revenue could not have been anticipated earlier. Earlier this week the New York State Comptroller said "overtime flows like water" at the Port Authority, which paid $85.7 million in overtime last year to 5,360 of its 6,977 employees. I am deeply disturbed by the Comptroller's report, and the audit should investigate why the Port Authority has not made every effort to cut their operating costs before proposing extreme fee hikes.
Traditionally, Port Authority spending was supposed to be divided equally between New York and New Jersey. These toll and fare increases will disproportionately affect New Jerseyans so it is important to know whether spending in recent years has been equally distributed between the two states and whether these new revenues from New Jersey commuters will be spent primarily in New Jersey or in New York.
I believe New Jersey working families, small businesses, and the many that are unemployed and looking for work are struggling enough. At this difficult time, they can hardly afford massive fee increases that will only make it more difficult for them to find work, get to work, or travel at all. Until a full and independent audit is conducted and New Jerseyans are given answers to these questions, you should use your veto authority to prevent the Port Authority from imposing a toll or fare hike.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.