Christie shuts down New Jersey government in battle with Dems

Posted July 03, 2017

For the first time in over a decade, New Jersey's government shut down on Friday night after Governor Chris Christie and state lawmakers failed to pass a budget.

The shutdown forces the closure of tourist attractions such as all 40 state parks, recreational areas, historic sites, state beaches and Liberty State Park just as the July Fourth holiday weekend gets underway.

The shutdown will most immediately be felt by those headed to state-run parks and beaches for the holiday weekend. Remaining open under the shutdown will be New Jersey Transit, state prisons, the state police, state hospitals and treatment centers as well as casinos, race tracks and the lottery.

"While the budget is not ideal, particularly because of a flawed lottery-pension scheme it incorporates, on Friday I voted yes to ensure that we did not shut down the government", Zwicker said.

Asked whether more services will close if a shutdown continues, he said, "Probably not". "For Fourth of July weekend?" The Assembly and Senate are technically still in session, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) said he planned to keep the board room open for a vote indefinitely as he tries to pressure fellow Democrats to approve the budget.

Maddie Hanna, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote that Christie has floated the possibility of having an emergency session of the Assembly Sunday.

Lawmakers were in the state capital, Trenton, on Saturday to work on resolving the standoff over the measure, pushed by Governor Chris Christie as way to help fund drug addiction services.

The fight between Christie and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto stems from a plan to overhaul control of the state's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a non-profit that operates under special state laws, NorthJersey.com reported.

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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.

The last time the New Jersey government shut down was in 2006, and it lasted for eight days.

"If my weekend's going to be ruined and the people of New Jersey's weekend is going to be impacted, you can bet for sure that I'm not giving 120 other people the weekend off", Christie said.

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

He did not mention Prieto but complained that Democrats frittered away several hours on an extended budget vote that went nowhere instead of working to cut a deal.

"I will consider it once a budget is signed".

"I've been coming here for 18 years. Some of them are here because they know it's the responsible thing to do", he said. "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".