Senator Bashes Double-Standard for Port Authority Reform Legislation
Senate Transportation Committeeman Joe Pennacchio said the New Jersey Legislature must stop neglecting its responsibility to serve all residents and start passing legislation to ensure accountable and transparent port authorities at both ends of the state.
“The escalating turmoil and troubles at the Delaware River Port Authority clearly show the need for New Jersey’s Senate to join Pennsylvania’s in unanimously passing bipartisan-supported reform bill S-2013,” Pennacchio said. “It’s mind boggling that we could come together here in New Jersey to unanimously pass needed reforms for the similarly troubled Port Authority of New York and New Jersey yet completely fail to act on legislation to bring the same level of accountability and trust to the DRPA.”
The Pennsylvania Senate approved an identical version of Senator Pennacchio’s legislation, S-2013, by a vote of 50-0 on Wednesday.
Two of the state’s largest public sector unions have endorsed SCR-134, a constitutional amendment proposed by New Jersey State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris/Essex/Passaic) that would give the Legislature the authority to establish slot machine gambling at New Jersey’s four horse racetracks.
The so-called “racinos” would be run by a consortium of Atlantic City’s existing casinos. Fifty percent of those proceeds would be constitutionally dedicated to New Jersey’s public worker pension system, 40 percent would go to the consortium of Atlantic City casinos running the video slot machines and 10 percent would be provided for infrastructure and entertainment enhancements in Atlantic City.
Pennacchio Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Partner Racetrack and Video Slots, Aid Public Pensions
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) has introduced a constitutional amendment to allow video slot wagering at the New Jersey horse racetracks. SCR134, which would need voter approval, allows the legislature to authorize slot machine wagering at New Jersey’s current four racetracks.
“Allowing slot machine wagering at New Jersey’s race tracks could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to support the pensions system and the revitalization of Atlantic City,” Pennacchio said. “There is an inevitability to racetrack “racinos” in New Jersey. Why not use the moment to strengthen and encourage Atlantic City and its casinos as well as increasing the solvency of our public workers pensions?”
Assistant Senate Republican Leader Joe Pennacchio urged legislative Democrats who agree on the need to address issues with the Delaware River Port Authority to follow through on their public comments by joining Pennsylvania in support of legislation to reform the troubled agency.
Pennacchio applauded the Senate President for publicly agreeing that the DRPA needs greater transparency and accountability, as well as to focus solely on its bridges and regional railway. Also, during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Senator Pennacchio pointed out that the very same issues that concern Democrats about the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey are also issues of concern with the DRPA.
In the wake of reports that the Newark school district spent $22,000 per month for over a year on catered meals and take-out food, Senator Joe Pennacchio renewed his call for passage of the “Transparency in Government Act” to prevent abusive spending of public funding.
“Newark school district officials’ audacity to spend hundreds of thousands of public dollars on catered meals while in the midst of a $42 million budget deficit is indefensible and further proof of the need for taxpayers to have access to information of how every one of their hard-earned dollars is spent,” said Pennacchio (R-Essex, Morris, Passaic). “Unfortunately, this type of wasteful spending of state tax dollars, like the millions of tax dollars wasted by the City of Newark detailed in a recent state Comptroller report, occurs outside the public eye time and time again in authorities and cities across the state.”
Senator Joe Pennacchio, sponsor of comprehensive bi-state legislation to reform the troubled Delaware River Port Authority, stated the following regarding news that the public agency is now spending $7,500 per month on a politically connected “crisis communicator” to try to look better, in light of missing emails in a federal probe and a host of other issues:
“I’ll be the DRPA’s ‘crisis communicator,’ free of charge. The message is simple: ‘We are sorry. We screwed up. Over the years, we have lost the proper focus and politics has clouded our good judgment. We have lost your trust by wasting and abusing your money, but we want to regain that trust and serve the best interests of hundreds of thousands of hard-working commuters. We finally embrace and encourage the passage of bi-state legislative reform, so that these issues never happen again and the DRPA is forever transparent and accountable to the public.’”
Senator: Missing Emails in Federal Probe Also Show Need for DRPA Reform
The New Jersey Senate today passed bipartisan legislation (S-2183) sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) to subject the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to the public records laws of both states.
During the PANYNJ transparency bill vote, Pennacchio renewed his calls for the passage of bi-state legislation (S-2013) to reform the similarly troubled Delaware River Port Authority.
“We’ve done a great public service today by coming together to pass bi-state, bipartisan legislation to make the troubled PANYNJ more transparent and accountable to the people, but it would be disingenuous to avoid reforming the DRPA, which has been maligned with rampant, widely reported waste and abuse that has increased tolls and fares,” said Assistant Republican Leader Pennacchio. “People know we cannot rely on the foxes to police these henhouses. We must protect all hard-working commuters across this the state and region by enacting both of these measures to ensure the appropriate delivery of services and the functionality of critical mass transit infrastructure.”
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) released the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court confirmations of Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Judge Lee Solomon.
“For years some of us have challenged our Supreme Court for its over-reaching judicial activism. I take very serious our separate but equal creed. I take more serious our founding fathers’ principle that all of us were created equally.
“Historically, this court has legislated school funding beyond our constitutional and legislative intent. This has lead to 22% of our state’s children receiving 60% of our states education funds. Unfortunately, the remaining funds must be divided by 80% of our students. When it comes to school funding this court has determined that the most important variable in school funding is a child’s zip code.
Assistant Senate Republican Leader and Transportation Committeeman Joe Pennacchio stated the following regarding Senate President Sweeney’s proposal for the Delaware River Port Authority to reduce toll fares from $5 to $4 for certain commuters.
“I agree with the Senate President that the DRPA charges commuters too much and ask him again to support my bi-state form legislation that would actually fund and maintain a toll cut,” said Pennacchio (R-Morris).
“We need this legislation (S2103) to make certain the money commuters are paying is going to the right place. Commuters now are still on the hook for the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been wasted by the agency. It is unacceptable that 50 cents of every dollar paid to the DRPA funds debt service, thanks to political spending on economic development that doesn’t benefit commuters. Preventing waste and abuse on a permanent basis at the DRPA will make sure all hard working families get a fair shake.”
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris, Essex, Passaic) is encouraging honorably discharged veterans who are seeking employment to attend a job fair on May 28 at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
“In these difficult economic times, a ray of good news is being offered at the Port of New York and New Jersey. It is especially heartening to know that these are specific job opportunities for our heroes and heroines – our veterans,” said Senator Pennacchio.