The governors of New Jersey and New York late Saturday vetoed legislation passed unanimously by each state's legislature to overhaul the operations of the Port Authority, and instead endorsed their own plan to revamp the troubled bistate agency.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had until Saturday to take action on the legislation, which needed the signature of each state's governor.
About 6 p.m., Cuomo and Gov. Christie, a Republican, jointly released and endorsed a 103-page report compiled by a special panel the governors convened in May in the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge scandal, which laid bare cross-Hudson rivalries among leaders of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Christie and Cuomo proposed changes to the authority's governance structure and recommended modernizing its commerce facilities, among other ideas.
Their actions were immediately criticized by New Jersey lawmakers who said the vetoes wrongly delayed an overhaul of an agency that has come under penetrating scrutiny since January, when documents surfaced linking two former Christie allies to the lane closures at the center of the bridge scandal.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark is investigating the September 2013 lane closures, which snarled traffic at the bridge for four days.
Two reports - one written by a law firm Christie's office hired, the other from a firm the New Jersey Legislature hired - have said a former top Port Authority official, David Wildstein, was instrumental in implementing the lane closures, along with Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly.
Documents legislators obtained exposed bitter infighting between the New York and New Jersey sides of the authority.
The legislation the governors vetoed sought to increase transparency and accountability at the agency, which operates the region's tunnels, bridges, and airports.
Christie conditionally vetoed one bill that would require the port to comply with the states' public records laws, saying he would sign it if the Legislature adopted a few changes.
He and Cuomo vetoed another bill that would have established a new Office of Inspector General, required the agency to submit annual audits, and required board members to take a "fiduciary oath" to uphold the authority's mission.
Christie and Cuomo both suggested the measures didn't go far enough to reform the agency.
In one of his two veto messages, Christie said the legislation was "too narrow" and lacked "changes needed for reform."
Of his own proposals, Christie said in a news release, "These changes reflect the need for a profound and necessary reimagining of the Port Authority governing structure, operations, and transparency in its oversight of the world's largest transportation and commerce network."
New Jersey legislators moved quickly to denounce the vetoes. "These vetoes are terribly disappointing news for the people of New Jersey and New York, especially the commuters who get stung by toll hike after toll hike by this out-of-control agency," Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D., Hudson) said in a statement. "They rightly expected more from the governors after the revelations at the Port Authority over the last year."
He said the Assembly would communicate "with all the sponsors in both states as to the next step."
The governors jointly proposed, among other provisions, replacing the authority's executive director and deputy executive director with a single chief executive, to be hired "as expeditiously as possible based on a national search" directed by the authority's board.
Cuomo and Christie said they wanted to return the agency to its core transportation mission, and recommended divesting its real estate holdings - such as the World Trade Center - and limiting new real estate investments. And the governors have asked each commissioner on the agency's board to tender an offer of resignation.
New Jersey State Sen. Robert Gordon (D., Bergen) said he was concerned the governors' plan might lack key components of the legislation they vetoed, such as "whistle-blower protections, protections against sweetheart real estate deals, examination by outside auditors, and extension of oversight to the two legislatures."
The report was completed with the help of the Promontory Financial Group L.L.C. in Washington. A spokesman for Christie didn't respond to requests for comment about what the report cost taxpayers.