New Jersey government shut down in budget dispute

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

Chris Christie went to his governor's residence at Island Beach State Park on Saturday night despite the government shutdown. It's a big holiday weekend and those who had plans to visit state parks and beaches in New Jersey were turned away. The state closure also won't affect the state lottery, casinos or racetracks, which are considered to be essential functions in New Jersey. After weeks of budget negotiations and failed attempts at last-minute deals, lawmakers settled early Saturday on an unprecedented short-term measure funding state government at fiscal 2017 levels for 72 hours.

The state Senate passed a bill that allows the state government to control how much Horizon keeps in its surplus fund before it must contribute to a public health fund.

Some of these beaches and state parks are a popular vacation spot to celebrate the July 4th weekend, including Island Beach State Park.

Prieto says he will not post for a vote in the Assembly any bill that would restructure Horizon, calling the idea unfair and unsafe as Congress considers repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Maddie Hanna, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote that Christie has floated the possibility of having an emergency session of the Assembly Sunday.

Liberty State Park was closed, forcing the suspension of ticket sales and ferry service from the site to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

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 wants a bill requiring Horizon to develop a plan for allocating its "excess" surplus to help pay for drug treatment and other care of the poor and uninsured.

The parties agree on the underlying budget and a Christie proposal to shore up the pension by transferring it to the lottery, but Christie says he wants the proposal affecting Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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All 80 of the Assembly's seats are up for re-election in November, when New Jersey will also vote on a new governor to replace Christie, whose second and final term as governor is ending.

Some Democrats in the Senate and Assembly have sided with Christie.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy took aim at both Christie and his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Saturday morning, saying the shutdown was unnecessary.

"If my weekend's going to be ruined and the people of New Jersey's weekend is going to be impacted, you can bet for sure that I'm not giving 120 other people the weekend off", Christie said.

Horizon opposes the proposed changes.

"We will be fully loaded", Christie said.

"I've been coming here for 18 years". With about half the Democrats in the Assembly siding with Christie and Sweeney, however, Prieto lacks the 41 votes needed to pass the budget. "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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