NJ Lawmakers Work on Budget after Government Shutdown

As of midnight July 1, all nonessential state services have been shut down in New Jersey because of a standoff between Governor Christie and democratic assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

Chris Christie stayed at the state-owned Island Beach State Park on Saturday night, less than a day after ordering state parks and beaches to close as a result of a budget stalemate.

Christie wants Democratic Senate-backed legislation that would stipulate how the surplus of the state's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, is used.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto opposes the plan, saying that the legislation could lead to rate increases on the insurer's 3.8 million subscribers and that the legislation is separate from the budget.

New Jersey State Police, prisons, Atlantic City casinos, state lottery and racetracks will remain active.

While the gates were closed to prevent motor vehicles from entering the parking lot, this state park was full of visitors who had simply parked elsewhere and walked in through the open pedestrian entrance. That means people will be locked out of state parks and unable to obtain birth and marriage certificates or process unemployment claims.

Christie has called for a special legislative session on Saturday, but it's not at all clear the impasse will be solved anytime soon. "Families and workers across New Jersey will needlessly suffer because Governor Christie has yet again created a phony crisis to put his personal agenda ahead of the public good". He actually said he is holding the budget hostage with the Horizon bill. New Jersey's credit rating is now the second lowest in the United States, above only IL.

During a press conference after the State Assembly failed to pass the budget of over $35 billion Thursday, Christie tried to pin the blame on Prieto, who the governor accused of being an obstructionist.

The measure was backed by Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

NJ Transit says rail, bus and light rail service, including Access Link, NJ Transit's paratransit service, will not be impacted in the event of a midnight government shutdown.

"I can not in good conscience vote for a state budget that would cut more than $1 million from our local schools in the 24th Legislative District", Oroho said.

"I don't know if it's fair, but they're not asking for any services", Christie said. While he said he would typically make his remarks from the Assembly chambers, Christie told the Legislature he was barred by Prieto. "Horizon needs to come to the table, as they have over the last number of years to come up with creative and innovative programs like that, to help us find a solution". "We had an opportunity to get together in rooms over those hours and hammer out a compromise, and we didn't". But on Friday evening, he intentionally kept the board open, telling reporters he had no intention of taking the vote down.

"The Republicans were ready to work, but the Democrats had a house divided", Space said after the shutdown was official.

The shutdown is only the second in state history.

  • Joey Payne