N.J. Democrats to attempt override of Christie Port Authority veto

By Matt Friedman NJ Advance Media 

TRENTON — New Jersey Senate Democrats say they’ll attempt to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill to overhaul the Port Authority, even if New York legislators will have to use a different tactic to get the bill past Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who also vetoed it.

“We made that decision last night. I contacted the senate president. He’s agreed. We’re in the process of trying to finalize a date,” said state Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), the bill’s prime sponsor. “We’re looking at mid-January and possibly the same day as the State of the State address, since everyone will be there.”

The bill cannot be immediately overridden in New York because their legislative session expires at the end of the year. But Gordon said its sponsor there, Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn), will reintroduce it with plans for both New York houses to pass it again. If Cuomo vetoes it again, they can then attempt an override.

There is, however, one big obstacle in New Jersey. Legislators need two-thirds majorities in the state Senate and Assembly. And even though the bill passed both the state houses without opposition, Republicans have in the past voted against overriding the governor’s vetoes even on legislation they overwhelmingly supported. Democrats have never successfully overridden the governor.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I’m always optimistic. This is a money issue, really. My Republican friends if you asked them if they would vote for a tax increase, they’d say no,” Gordon said. But as has been discussed in the last couple years, these toll increases that have been foisted on the commuters of north Jersey are no different than a tax increase.”

If the New Jersey state Senate successfully overrides the veto, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-Bergen), its sponsor in the lower house, said the body would "absolutely" hold an override vote.

Instead of supporting the far-reaching legislative changes to the Port Authority, Christie and Cuomo endorsed suggested changes to the authority contained in a 99-page report from a special panel. Democrats said they're supportive of some of those changes, but don't think they go far enough.