Unable to reach agreement on the state’s budget, Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey State Legislator remained in a deadlock that resulted in government shutdown as of midnight Friday night.
Governor Christie has declared a state of emergency and his office indicated that the shutdown would result in state-run parks and beaches being closed. This is particularly impactful because of the 4th of July holiday this weekend. Reportedly, the municipal counterparts to these public locations will still operate, however, and Christie stated that essential government services would not be affected.
Governor Christie, a Republican, refused to budge on his demand that the budget include a requirement for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield to allocate part of its reserve funding for public health initiatives like Christie’s drug treatment initiative. The Democratic-run State Assembly refused despite a version of the legislation passing in the State Senate.
Christie had threatened to veto any budget bill that did not include this provision.
The last time a shutdown happened in New Jersey was in 2006. A law was passed in response that would allow racetracks and casinos to remain open even if public parks and beaches were shut down, meaning that celebrating Independence Day may have to relocate from the sand dunes to the slots for many people.
The Governor’s office sent a letter detailing what government agencies and services would and would not be available until a compromise is reached and a budget agreed upon. All events planned within public parks and on historical sites have been cancelled, some rest stops and tourist facilities have been closed, and various administrative offices such as the Motor Vehicle Commission and the Department of the Treasury will remain closed.
The move inspired ire from vacationing families, some of whom were already set up for camping or other activities for the holiday weekend and may have to head home early. The government did not provide guidance for people traveling to the closed locations beyond the fact that they would be closed and their events cancelled.
Christie had called for an emergency session for Saturday at 11 am, but there has been no word as to the results of that meeting or whether a compromise has been met.