Budget impasse continues as state enters first day of government shutdown

With New Jersey's current budget expiring at midnight Friday, Assembly Democrats and Gov. Chris Christie don't look anywhere close to making a deal on a new one. "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".

The legislation is not must-pass in the same way lawmakers and Christie have to enact a balanced budget by July 1.

"Work with me. End this shutdown", Christie said in a speech to the Legislature on Saturday.

Christie is still railing against the insurer and its $2.4 billion reserve, and Vitale's bill created a wider net for the state by giving authority to the state Department of Banking and Insurance to annually define what an excess of reserves is, as well as how to use the funds - not mandating they be used for the opioid battle.

"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.

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While the gates were closed to prevent motor vehicles from entering the parking lot, this state park was full of visitors who had simply parked elsewhere and walked in through the open pedestrian entrance.

During the shutdown, essential services including health and safety operations as well as New Jersey Transit will continue to operate.

But Christie asserts that using the private space shouldn't be a problem for himself or friends as his family won't require state help to run the six-bedroom house.

Bateman, R-16th, criticized both Christie and Prieto. 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.

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.

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The governor shut down the state government Friday night after the legislature failed to pass a budget. The voting board remained open in the Assembly, reflecting the same vote counts as Friday at midnight.

The shutdown was the first in New Jersey in more than a decade, and it came as many in the state were heading to the Jersey Shore and state parks to celebrate Independence Day.

When Christie first announced the $300 million demand - which both he and his allies say is no longer the amount being sought - Horizon was willing to give about half that amount.

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney says he does not want to risk Christie vetoing the extra spending and so has agreed to Senate-crafted Horizon proposal.

Christie wants Democratic Senate-backed legislation that would stipulate how the surplus of the state's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, is used. After the news broke of the shutdown, Phoebus said she thought it was "a very sad day for the state of New Jersey".

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A key difference is the Senate bill does not directly grant the state access to Horizon's surplus. The shutdown will also impact all state parks, forests, historic sites and recreation areas, all of which would be closed for the duration.


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