Saturday, July 1, 2017

It's official: New Jersey government is shut down

The following story was filed at 12:32 this morning by The Record's Dustin Racioppi, Nicholas Pugliese, Bob Jordan

Gov. 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.

Christie's executive order, declaring a state of emergency, closes non-essential services around the state.

“This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and re-open New Jersey’s government," Christie said in a statement. “This was completely avoidable. But Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto needlessly stalled the budget process, forcing the closure of New Jersey government and inconveniencing everyone living in and visiting our state.”

Christie then called a special joint legislative session on Saturday. He had no plans to speak at the session, his office said.

"The governor has called the session not to give speeches but to try to work to convince the speaker to reopen the government that the speaker has closed tonight. The governor will be here early tomorrow to continue to work for the people of New Jersey," spokesman Brian Murray said in a statement.

While lawmakers work toward an agreement in Trenton, people across New Jersey will be locked out of state parks and beaches, unable to renew their driver's licenses and blocked from processing unemployment claims.

Lack of agreement in the final days of the fiscal year is nothing new in Trenton. But it was a surprising shift of circumstances that threatened to bring government to a halt, stunning even veterans of the State House. Many Democrats supported the budget agenda of Christie, a Republican, in order to see a spending plan they support signed into law and allow them to break for the summer and begin their legislative re-election campaigns.

But lawmakers appeared more likely to spend the days heading in to the Fourth of July weekend working toward an agreement that both sides could support. Christie — whose family planned to stay at Island Beach State Park, which will be closed in a shutdown — suggested earlier in the day that he was ready to call the 120-member Legislature back to Trenton this weekend.

"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 th
e weekend off," Christie said.

Read the full story here

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