NJ Government Shutdown: Local Lawmakers Critical of Christie

03 July, 2017, 01:27 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building

Of course, that was days before he signed an executive order shutting down non-essential government services after the Legislature failed to adopt a budget by the fiscal year deadline on midnight Saturday.

The shutdown means state parks and nonessential services such as the Motor Vehicle Commission are shutting down just ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

According to NJ.com, the issue centers on Christie's desire to control how much not-for-profit Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey may keep in a reserve fund before it's required to use it for public health, namely, opioid addiction treatment programs.

But Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and other Democrats say the Horizon bill, introduced only on Thursday, is "bad public policy". Prisons, the state police and casinos will remain open.

DMVs across the state were also closed and if progress isn't made, many will be at risk of not receiving permits or copies of either marriage or birth certificates.

Christie has called for a special legislative session on Saturday, but it's not at all clear the impasse will be solved anytime soon.

The National Association of State Budget Officers says the states without a budget on July 1 are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. With about half the Democrats in the Assembly siding with Christie and Sweeney, however, Prieto lacks the 41 votes needed to pass the budget.

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When Christie first announced the $300 million demand - which both he and his allies say is no longer the amount being sought - Horizon was willing to give about half that amount. But Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said a major July 4 celebration scheduled for Liberty State Park featuring a concert by Kool & The Gang would be held at another location if the shutdown stretches on.

Governor Christie stands firm that he will not compromise with the large budget Democrats are proposing, claiming it's for "well-being of the people of New Jersey" to create a fiscally responsible budget.

"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. Christie, get the h-- off the beach!' Municipal parks are still open and the New Jersey transit system is still running, but non-emergency state offices and agencies have been shuttered and most state employees have been furloughed. Republican Gov. Chris Christie has said he would shut down government if he does not receive a budget.

The Governor and Assembly Speaker accuse each other of the NJ government shutdown. And while they plan to be at it again this morning, there's no sense that the impasse can be overcome. The voting board remained open in the Assembly, reflecting the same vote counts as Friday at midnight.

The term-limited, unpopular governor delivered a roughly half-hour speech to a joint session on a rare Saturday session, blaming the shutdown on Prieto, whose photo the administration has placed at the closed entrances of state parks.

Liberty State Park was closed, forcing the suspension of ticket sales and ferry service from the site to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

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