How a state government shutdown could unfold
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s state government is inching toward a shutdown.
Gov. Chris Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature have not agreed on terms to enact a $34.7 billion spending plan by midnight Friday.
If the deadline passes without a budget in place, the state will have its first shutdown since 2006 under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. It would be the first for Christie, a two-term Republican.
The shutdown would mean the state’s nonessential services, like state parks and motor vehicle offices would close. Prisons, state police and Atlantic City’s casinos would remain open.
A closer look at how the debate is unfolding and what a shutdown would mean:
Christie said Friday that the governor has broad authority under the constitution to carry out a shutdown if he and the Legislature do not agree to a budget.
He said he is meeting with his Cabinet to plan how the shutdown would work and expects that unlike in 2006, when Corzine allowed state parks to remain open, he would close them.
The reason, Christie said, was because now — unlike then — a deal is not close at hand.
He said the shutdown could affect state workers. He told reporters they should not expect to get back pay.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
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.
Christie initially proposed using Horizon’s surplus to treat opioid addiction, but that measure was rejected. He now backs the Senate proposal. It would allow the state insurance commissioner to set a range for Horizon’s surplus, which would have to be spent on the public and policy holders if the limit is exceeded. The bill doesn’t specify the limit.
In exchange, the governor has agreed to about $350 million in Democratic spending priorities, including $150 million in education aid across the state. That’s off the table — line-item vetoed out of the budget — if the Horizon bill doesn’t reach his desk, he said.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto opposes the bill and refuses to consider it for a vote, leading to a stalemate.
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.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Christie said Friday he is ready to work the weekend to get a deal done and indicated he would call the Legislature into session as well.
The prospect for a shutdown comes as the state’s tourism industry gears up for the Fourth of July holiday.
Chamber of Commerce executive Michael Egenton says businesses up and down the state’s 127-mile cost are concerned about the possible negative effects a shutdown may have.
Still, beachgoers would have options at local municipal beaches.