The New Jersey state government shut down on Friday at midnight. Governors in New Jersey and Maine shut down their state governments after lawmakers remained locked in a standoff and failed to reach budget deals before Friday’s midnight deadline. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage put a partial shutdown in place until Monday afternoon. In New Jersey, non-essential services will be shut down until lawmakers break the impasse and Chris Christie signs a budget.
However, the governor said he and his family plan to spend the long Independence Day holiday weekend at the governor’s summer house at Island Beach State Park.
Christie doesn’t live there, but the beach house is one of the perks of being the state’s chief executive. Christie also has use of Drumthwacket, the official gubernatorial mansion in Princeton, according to NJ.
A reporter asked Saturday if Chris Christie thought it fair that his family would be free to enjoy a state park that would be closed to the public as a result of the shutdown. The New Jersey governor stressed that the beach house is separate from the park and that his family does not ask for any state services.
“I don’t know if it’s fair, but… my family doesn’t ask for any services while we are there.”
For others, the most immediate effect of the shutdown has hit those headed to state-run parks and beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the New York Times. State Liberty State Park overlooks New York City and is scheduled to host more than 100,000 people for its Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display that was set for Tuesday.
Christie demanded that the $34.7 billion budget, negotiated by the legislature, include a provision that requires Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield spend some of its reserve funds on public health initiatives, in particular, his drug treatment initiative, according to the New York Times. Without this provision included, Christie said he would veto any budget lawmakers send him.
On Saturday morning, new vehicles, some packed with beach chairs, beach balls, fishing rods, and anticipation approached the entrance to the beach at Liberty State Park only to be met by two police cars and a barricade.
Eric Cowling, 28, traveled with his girlfriend to New Jersey from Philadelphia to fish, lounge, and possibly camp in their truck on the beach. He was not happy with what he found when he got there.
Chris Christie has since declared a state of emergency and called for a special session of the legislature. Christie commented about the government shutdown in a statement.
“This was completely avoidable.”
The 2017 New Jersey government shutdown is the first since 2006.
However, on Twitter, Chris Christie said he was ready to sign a budget before the deadline.
According to the website, NJ.com, New Jersey state law requires a budget to be in place every June 30. If not, the governor will shut down the state.
Chris Christie ordered a special session of the legislature in Trenton on Saturday, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has vowed to block the governor from entering the chambers. Christie engaged on Twitter. Prieto retorted with a Watergate reference.
What Will Be Closed During The New Jersey Government Shutdown?
State Parks And Beaches
All state-run parks, recreational areas, historic sites, forests, camping areas, and beaches are closed. This would also include the two state beaches, Cheesequake and Island Beach, in addition to Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Statue Cruises, which runs ferry trips to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park, said it would honor tickets at its Manhattan location or exchange them for later dates.
More than 25,000 expected visitors could be impacted by a four-day shutdown. It would also cost at least $850,000 in lost revenue to the company and related entities, a Statue Cruises executive said in a statement.
Thousands of state workers are expected to be furloughed, except staff that is deemed essential, like state police troopers and state correctional and hospital employees. Many wondered if they will be paid for the time they missed? During the 2006 New Jersey government shutdown, about 45,000 state workers were furloughed. They later received back pay. However, during a news conference on Friday, Christie said “don’t count on it” this time.
.@VincentPrieto unnecessarily stalled the budget process forcing this closure & inconveniencing everyone living in & visiting our state.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) July 1, 2017
Motor Vehicle Commission Stations
All Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and inspection stations will be closed starting Saturday. That means you won’t be able to get a driver’s license or renew your registration.
In Cherry Hill NJ, motorists pulling into closed DMV for inspections. "Will it be back open Monday?" said one woman of government shutdown. pic.twitter.com/OJJdJ0oe6F— Allison Steele (@AESteele) July 1, 2017
One resident of New Jersey said the registration on his car has expired and he drove to the DMV in Rahway, to find out the New Jersey government had been shut down.
My registration expires, as a good citizen I drove to the DMV in Rahway,NJ ; Just to find out the NJgovernment SHUTDOWN #shm— Alexander.A.Deleon (@DeleonDr) July 1, 2017
Most state courts will be closed on Monday during the business week, except for emergency cases. Municipal courts remain open. State courts will remain closed throughout the week unless a deal is struck over the weekend.
Pension and Taxation Offices
Taxation call centers and walk-in departments will also close beginning on Monday. State Division of Pensions and Benefits for public workers will continue payment of health provider claims and life claims, as well as processing changes to family status for health benefits.
Birth And Married Certificates
Offices like the state Department of Health, where you obtain copies of birth and marriage certificates, will be closed starting on Monday.
Travel and tourism welcome centers are closed.
What Stays Open During The 2017 New Jersey Government Shutdown?
State Police and National Guard
The New Jersey State Police will continue to patrol. The National Guard will also remain on call. Veteran’s Haven North and South — transitional housing for military vets — will stay open, as well.
State hospitals and treatment facilities won’t close.
New Jersey Transit
Public transportation in New Jersey will operate as usual.
NJT services NOT impacted by potential state shutdown. All terminals/stations will be open on regular hours.— NJ TRANSIT (@NJTRANSIT) July 1, 2017
State prisons and halfway houses will not close, however, some inmate services may be interrupted.
New Jersey Public Schools
Public schools and colleges will also remain open, including Katzenbach School for the Deaf. It is important to note that the state Department of Education’s help desks, customer service, and other services will be unavailable.
In addition to this, the budget shutdown does not affect services at the NJ Lottery or in New Jersey casinos, and racetracks.
More recently, Chris Christie posted photos of himself and his team waiting for Vincent Prieto with the hashtag #PrietoShutDown.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who is a Democrat, has refused to put the legislation demanded by Chris Christie up for a vote. He called it an unfair intervention in the not-for-profit company that shouldn’t be part of the budget process.
The New Jersey closings arrived during the July 4 holiday weekend. If the stalemate lasts through Tuesday, it will also include Independence Day.
[Featured Image by Jeff Zelevansky/AP Images]