GOP wants to rein in ‘shadow government’ of authorities in New Jersey

 Republican lawmakers detail their reform proposals at Statehouse news conference (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Republican lawmakers detail their reform proposals at Statehouse news conference (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly say there’s no reason to wait until the investigation of the George Washington Bridge scandal is concluded to take action on proposals to overhaul the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and hundreds of other authorities in the state.

The Port Authority, said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, is an out-of-control behemoth that has operated in a murky netherworld far too long.

“We want to reform shadow government, as it’s sometimes called, such that these kinds of ad hoc, exceedingly costly and disruptive efforts won’t be necessary ever again in the future,” said Handlin, R-Monmouth.

The Port Authority has been central to the “Bridgegate” scandal in which N.J. officials orchestrated lane closures for four days in September to create massive gridlock, apparently as an act of political retribution.

Under the structural changes Republicans have proposed, all state authorities would be required to comply with audit recommendations and provide detailed information on contracting, debt, and personnel on a website for public scrutiny.

There’s no indication whether Democrats who control the Legislature will comply with the Republicans’ call for quick action or whether Gov. Chris Christie would go along with them.

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