wnol.info January 21 2018

Christie declares state of emergency, shuts down NJ government

January 21 2018, 12:13 | Irvin Gilbert

A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building. Marielle Segarra

A view of the New Jersey State House the area's capitol building

One family gained from New Jersey's government shutdown on Saturday - Gov. Chris Christie's wife, their kids and their friends had one of the East Coast's most handsome beaches all to themselves.

That was the tongue-in-cheek response from Larry Manno of Ridgefield, Conn., when he learned Saturday that Christie and his family were spending the weekend at the governor's official retreat in Island Beach State Park even though the 10-mile long park was off limits to everyone else. Described as New Jersey's biggest government crisis in more than a decade, the shutdown will literally turn the lights out in Trenton, beginning July 1.

NJ Transit says rail, bus and light rail service, including Access Link, NJ Transit's paratransit service, will not be impacted in the event of a midnight government shutdown.

The lame-duck governor himself spent Saturday in Trenton seeking to end the state budget standoff that brought about the whole mess.

He did not dispute on Tuesday a reporter who suggested that the Horizon legislation was a part of the budget talks, but instead said there were many issues being discussed. "Horizon is a company that came out with an innovative program that signed up over 50,000 people that didn't have insurance in the last 10 years", Greenwald said.

The Senate voted Thursday to approve the lottery dedication and Horizon bill, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has remained adamant that he would not post any Horizon legislation for a vote in his chamber.

"Gov. Christie, get the h- off the beach!"

Christie ordered the shutdown of nonessential state services, like parks and motor vehicle offices, Friday after he and lawmakers failed to agree on terms to enact a $34.7 billion budget.

Chris Christie and the Democratic-led Legislature returned to the Statehouse on Saturday to try to resolve the shutdown, the state's first since 2006 and the first under Christie. An Assembly vote on the budget stalled late on Friday, as some Democrats abstained from voting, fearing Christie's veto of important items without an agreement on the Horizon bill.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, Christie, who has six months left in office, tried to shift the blame to the Legislature. But the meeting ended without any movement, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto continued to be unable to muster the votes needed to advance a spending plan from the lower house.

The shutdown could be short-lived however as Christie has called a special legislative session for 11 Saturday morning to continue working on a deal.

The national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which sent a representative to the Senate budget committee hearing Monday to oppose the bill, has seen its members in similar situations across the country since the early 2000s.

"I've been coming here for 18 years. They don't want additional transparency", he said. "Phil Murphy, as the head of his party, should immediately call his political bosses, who are orchestrating this, and tell them to stop playing politics with the lives of the people who will be hurt by a government shutdown".

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