questioned the necessity of each expenditure, and nullified discretionary spending that contradicted principles of sound fiscal practice.
These ongoing reviews of each authority’s spending practices are not limited to budgets, but also extend to individual expenditures and contracts. On February 3, 2011, Governor Christie vetoed expenditures ratified by the board of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) because the payments were made under a contract that had not been competitively bid. On other occasions, the Governor has vetoed excessive spending practices of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority as well as the DRPA. In so doing, Governor Christie urged each authority to come up with more fiscally responsible and competitive practices with respect to procurement of professional services.
Governor Christie has called upon each of the transportation authorities to curb excessive spending, and demanded that they eliminate long-standing practices of allowing free tolls and fares for employees and retirees traveling on personal business. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the NJTA, the DRPA, the DRBA and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) all have complied with the Governor’s request and are taking steps to end these practices.
Governor Christie also has eliminated other egregious, long-standing practices at these authorities. In August 2010, the Governor demanded the DRPA swiftly enact 16 sweeping reforms. The Governor’s reforms included strengthening the Board’s conflicts of interest policy; enacting an undue influence policy that precludes employees and commissioners from exerting undue influence in hiring and contracting; ensuring compliance with the Open Public Meeting and Sunshine laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey; eliminating the practice of having each state’s board members meet separately in private before regular meetings; enacting a "no gifts" policy for board members; eliminating all free toll and fare perks for employees and retirees; eliminating all car allowances; and requiring any charitable donations to go before the full board for approval. At the Governor’s urging, the DRPA board passed each of his proposed reforms by the end of calendar year 2010. The Governor also called upon the NJTA and SJTA to eliminate the long-standing practice of allowing their employees to “cash in” sick and vacation days on an annual basis at authority expense, and ended bonuses to employees based on longevity and other factors not closely tied to performance. Both the NJTA and the SJTA eliminated these practices and bonuses for their non-contractual employees at their November 2010 meetings.
Finally, Governor Christie demanded a clean sweep of the board and practices of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC). After sending demand letters to each of the seven sitting commissioners, the Governor immediately suspended and ultimately accepted the resignations of six. Governor Christie also signed an executive order vesting operational leadership over the PVSC with its new executive director, Wayne J. Forrest. Because of these efforts, the Governor has broken the PVSC of fiscally irresponsible employment practices, nepotism, and political patronage that were tolerated by the past Administration. Under Forrest’s leadership, the PVSC underwent a complete reorganization designed to re-establish the public’s trust and confidence in the agency. Because of this new leadership and the Governor’s oversight, the PVSC also passed a flat budget for the first time in its history, and the municipalities it serves will endure no increase in their fees for service.