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03 July 2017, 01:28 | Katrina Lee
New Jersey Budget Stalemate Brings State Closer To Shutdown
Chris Christie ordered the first state government shutdown in over a decade Friday night as he and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto remained deadlocked in budget negotiations, fighting over a plan to overhaul the state's largest health insurer.
A partial shutdown of New Jersey government services snarled traffic near the state's Atlantic shore resorts on Saturday, the first day of the July 4 holiday weekend, as troopers turned back beachgoers from a shuttered beach and other state parks. But Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who is facing a challenge for his speakership by an assemblyman who's allied with lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the budget, is still opposing the Horizon bill and refusing to put it up for a vote. It does not affect essential services, such as the New Jersey State Police, psychiatric hospitals, of NJ Transit operations.
State parks and beaches are also closed, as will motor vehicle offices. If the shutdown continues into next week, nobody's getting any new state permits or copies of marriage and birth certificates. Had the budget not been approved by Saturday, a partial state government shutdown would have been necessary.
Maine's Republican-controlled senate had already endorsed the budget with a 34-1 vote, but LePage vowed to veto any budget that increased the state's lodging tax without reducing the income tax, the Portland Press Herald reported.
At a news conference Saturday, Christie said he agreed to the bill sponsored by state Sen.
Earlier in the exchange, Christie had discussed the origins of the Horizon bill, which began with a call during his February budget address for $300 million from Horizon's surplus to fight opioid addiction.
"The Legislature's inability to approve an FY18 State Budget by the June 30th deadline has forced the closure of state government". "They don't want additional transparency", he said.
A woman named Amethyst posted a photo of a campsite at Wharton State Forest, blaming both Prieto and Christie and said: '@GovChristie @VincentPrieto Thanks for ruining our vacation!' State beaches and parks would close, including Liberty State Park, which overlooks New York City and is scheduled to host more than 100,000 people for its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display on Tuesday.
Senate Democrats passed the Horizon bill Thursday and have said it could be repealed after Christie's successor takes office next January. "These guys have to get their act together".
The problem will be a headache for visitors hoping to enjoy Jersey's 40 state parks, recreational areas and historic sites, but will of course be much more severe for residents.
On Friday, Prieto opened the board - statehouse parlance for taking the voting roll on legislation - at 7:17 p.m. and kept it open until after midnight and into the weekend.
"I don't know if it's fair, but they are not asking for any services", Christie said during a Saturday news conference in Trenton.
"The situation that has led to this shutdown is both disappointing and frustrating".
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