Christie shuts down NJ government over budget impasse – Press of Atlantic City

 In U.S.
TRENTON — New Jersey’s state government has shut down for the first time under Republican Gov. Chris Christie after he and the Democrat-led Legislature failed to reach an agreement on a budget by the deadline at midnight Friday.

Christie, a former GOP presidential candidate and adviser to President Donald Trump who is leading the White House’s anti-opioid commission, announced the shutdown of the state’s nonessential services in an executive order.

The shutdown means state parks and nonessential services such as the Motor Vehicle Commission are shutting down just ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Prisons, the state police and casinos will remain open.

Christie, who is deeply unpopular in the state as he heads into his final six months in office, made supporting a $34.7 billion budget that includes 73 Democratic priorities contingent on a proposal to overhaul the nonprofit Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, aiming to tap into their surplus to finance drug treatment.

Christie said at a news conference on Friday that he and Senate Democrats, who have agreed with the governor, still had not reached a deal with Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who refuses to consider the Horizon legislation.

Prieto held a vote Friday on the budget that remained deadlocked with only 26 yes votes out of 41 needed to prevail.

Christie has called the Legislature into session for Saturday.

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has ordered the state government to shut down after he and the Democrat-led Legislature failed to reach an agreement on a new budget.

The shutdown means state parks and nonessential services like the Motor Vehicle Commission are shutting down just ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Prisons, the state police and casinos will remain open.

This is Christie’s first government shutdown in his two terms, and the first since 2006 under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.

Budget talks fell apart when Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto failed to support a bill to make over the state’s largest health insurer. The measure was backed by Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Christie is term-limited. Voters will elect a new governor in November.

TRENTON — Republican Gov. Chris Christie on Friday demanded the Democrat-controlled Legislature send him a measure to make over the state’s largest health insurer, threatening the first government shutdown on his watch because of a position that has drawn the ire of liberal and conservative groups alike.

The deadline to enact a budget was midnight Friday. No resolution had been reached by deadline.

Christie, who is deeply unpopular in the state as he heads into his final six months in office, has made supporting a $34.7 billion budget that includes 73 Democratic priorities contingent on a proposal to overhaul the nonprofit Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, aiming to tap into their surplus to finance drug treatment.

Last year’s surplus was $2.4 billion.

Voting on a budget in the Democrat-led Assembly was underway but deadlocked Friday. Speaker Vincent Prieto said he would leave the vote open and blamed a possible shutdown on the two dozen members who abstained.

A government shutdown would be the first on Christie’s watch. It would mean the state’s nonessential services, such as state parks and motor vehicle offices would close. Prisons, State Police and Atlantic City’s casinos would remain open.

Christie said at a news conference hours before Friday’s deadline that he and Senate Democrats, who have agreed with the governor, still did not have a deal with Prieto, who refuses to consider the Horizon legislation.

Christie was once viewed as the future of his party — a Republican who could compromise with Democrats to produce results and win in a Democratic state. He was praised for his handling of Hurricane Sandy and won re-election in 2013 by double digits.

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