JERSEY CITY, NJ — Closed signs are what thousands of people in New Jersey see when they try to get to the many state parks and beaches this July 4th holiday weekend.
At 12:01 on July 1st, New Jersey’s state government shut down after Republican Governor Chris Christie and the Democrat-led legislature failed to pass a budget by the deadline on Friday.
And on this third day of shutdown, the first in more than a decade — the impact is now being widely felt beyond just canceled picnics and camping.
State offices deemed non-essential are closed. The governor’s office estimate about 30 to 35,000 state workers have been furloughed.
On Monday, a special session of both houses of legislature is scheduled to take place with the hope that a deal could be reached to end the shutdown.
The reason for the stalemate: the horizon bill that State Assembly speaker Vincent Prieto did not post for a vote because he says it’s a bad policy.
“I don’t think it’s government’s role to take from non profit money, so then we could be looking at other non-profit, and given health care that we want to make it affordable, given the uncertainty in Washington with the Affordable Healthcare Act, we’re talking about Medicaid expansion, all these things, this is not the right time to be doing this,” Prieto said.
The bill would allow the state to take more than $300 million from Horizon to pay for public health programs like drug treatment.
Prieto says the bill would likely cause a rate increase for the insurer’s 3.8 million customers.
Governor Christie says he will sign the budget with Democratic priorities included, if they pass the Horizon bill, but he will veto out their priorities if they don’t.
“If they send me a budget tonight without horizon, then I’ll act in one particular way. If they send me a budget with horizon, then I’ll act a different way.”
The governor of New Jersey has more power and freedom than any other state. Christie has the freedom to line-item-veto anything in the budget.
Meanwhile, while thousands look for alternate places to enjoy their holiday weekend — besides the closed state parks and beaches — Christie and his family spend it at Island Beach state park.
On Monday, the governor addressed the criticisms during a phone interview with Fox Five News.
While legislators continue their negotiations in Trenton, in Jersey City — one of the biggest celebrations planned for this state park on July 4th has now been moved to Exchange Place, since it looks like the Garden State will still have no budget in place.