Statement on Veto of Resolution 14-07:
Delaware Commissioners Object to Governor Christie’s Failure
to Respect the Bi-State Nature of DRBA Governance
(New Castle, DE) On April 7, after extensive negotiation and deliberation, the Commissioners of the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) passed Resolution 14-07 by a 10-1 vote, with one abstention, which authorized union contracts and a budget amendment containing a 1.9% cost of living adjustment for union and non-union personnel at the bi-state agency. Many Authority employees haven’t had a cost of living increase in five of the past six years.
Yesterday, we received notice that Governor Christie vetoed that resolution because it does not exactly match certain New Jersey State policies and practices.
In the 1960s, the States of Delaware and New Jersey, with the consent of the United States Congress, agreed to create the DRBA to manage transportation links between Delaware and New Jersey. The agency was intentionally set up under a Congressional Compact with a bi-state governing board consisting of an equal number of members from both New Jersey and Delaware. It was not left to one State or another. It was not designed to be controlled by one state, cooperation and compromise would be necessary. For more than fifty years, Governors from Delaware and New Jersey have worked together and with the Authority in the best interest of the people of the two States and the travelling public.
“Governor Christie has attempted to impose a ‘New Jersey way or the highway’ mentality and repeatedly directed us to conform our operations to the rules of the State of New Jersey, especially on personnel matters,” said Authority Vice- Chairman William E. Lowe, III. “Yesterday’s veto is a further indication of that one-sided stance.”
“This isn’t just about public employees getting a long overdue cost of living increase,” said Commissioner Samuel E. Lathem, Vice- Chairman of the Authority’s Personnel Committee. “The Authority is an independent body that receives no funding from either state, there’s no negotiation or discussion with Governor Christie on these matters – the only criteria is, “are you conducting business exactly as New Jersey does?”
“What makes this so much more difficult to take is that the DRBA has an outstanding record of conservative financial management,” said Budget and Finance Vice-Chairman Gary F. Traynor. “The DRBA has shown prudent fiscal oversight over our pension and OPEB trust funds, making more than our required annual payment each of the last four years and exceeding actuarial requirements. We have maintained services while reducing staffing by 25 percent over the last ten years. Few other public bodies, including the State of New Jersey, can make similar claims.”
PDF of DRBA Statement