NJ government shuts down over budget gridlock

A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building
A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building. Marielle Segarra
Author

03 July, 2017

As a result, New Jersey's state-run beaches, parks, golf courses are closed on this Fourth of July weekend, ticking off confused would-be visitors across the state. The state lottery and NJ Transit also remain in operation, the website reported.

Referring to the shutdown as "Gov. Christie's Hostage Crisis Day One", Prieto said he has made compromises that led to the budget now before the Legislature.

On Friday, Christie said a government shut down would be "because of Speaker Prieto".

The issue comes down to compromise, he said, adding that his willingness to agree to Democratic spending preferences despite having the ability to line-item veto them shows he's bending. "Fourth of July weekend for a shore business is essential", he said in an interview Saturday morning outside the park gate.

Prieto says he will not post for a vote in the Assembly any bill that would restructure Horizon, calling the idea unfair and risky as Congress considers repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

"I've been the one that's been trying to negotiate", Prieto told reporters after midnight.

All Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and inspection centers, workers' compensation courts, taxation call centers, and a couple of rest areas on I-295 and I-80, among other affected services, will close, according to the governor's office.

At a press conference earlier on Saturday, Governor Chris Christie promised that work will continue without them.

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New Jersey's government is shut down for the first time since 2006 because of the budget impasse that hinges on Christie's proposal to restructure Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Christie wants a bill requiring Horizon to develop a plan for allocating its "excess" surplus to help pay for drug treatment and other care of the poor and uninsured.

This was the first government shut down in over a decade, and the timing couldn't be worse.

Christie said during a news conference Friday that he's not concerned about how he'd be perceived during a shutdown.

In an interview with New Jersey 101.5 radio station on Monday, the governor said that he was excited to be spending July 4 at the beach and expected "the whole family" to show up. "In fact, the Assembly Judiciary Committee stands ready to hold hearings starting this month", Prieto said.

"Horizon is the only company that stayed in the [Obamacare] exchange".

Prieto remained steadfast Saturday in his opposition, reiterating that he won't consider the plan as part of the budget process but would consider it once a budget is signed.

"I've been coming here for 18 years".

'We will be fully loaded, I don't know how much sleep [wife] Mary Pat and I will be getting, ' said Christie. "Phil Murphy, as the head of his party, should immediately call his political bosses, who are orchestrating this, and tell them to stop playing politics with the lives of the people who will be hurt by a government shutdown".


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