Governor Chris Christie, citing New Jersey’s “financial condition,” vetoed three years of pay raises at a bistate authority that operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, two ferries and five airports.
Christie, a second-term Republican, blocked increases of 1.9 percent annually, plus level 10 percent contributions toward health benefits, for 370 employees of the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which oversees crossings between Delaware and New Jersey.
“As a matter of policy driven by New Jersey’s financial condition, the awarded salary increases are inconsistent with those provided to New Jersey employees,” the governor wrote in an April 21 letter to Scott Green, executive director of the New Castle, Delaware-based authority.
State and many town workers in New Jersey have paid 20 percent of their health-care premiums for almost four years, Christie wrote. He invoked his veto power against the authority’s April 7 resolution approving the awards.
William E. Lowe III, vice chairman of the commission, said Christie “has attempted to impose a ‘New Jersey way or the highway’ mentality,” according to a statement issued by an authority spokesman, James E. Salmon.
The authority has a good history of financial management, has cut staff by 25 percent over 10 years and makes pension payments in excess of actuarial requirements, according to Gary F. Traynor, vice chairman for budget and finance.
“Few other public bodies, including the state of New Jersey, can make similar claims,” Traynor said in the statement.