Budget impasse continues as state enters first day of government shutdown

Saturday's government shutdown following a budget impasse in the Assembly has left dozens of state parks closed to the public.

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. Remaining open under the shutdown will be New Jersey Transit, state prisons, the state police, state hospitals and treatment centers as well as casinos, race tracks and the lottery.

In exchange, the governor has agreed to about $350 million in Democratic spending priorities, including $150 million in education aid across the state.

Earlier in the day, Christie told reporters he understands that people may have a negative perception that his family gets to enjoy Island Beach State Park while the public can not, but he pointed out that the governor also has a state-owned residence there.

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

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he has not reached a deal with Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto over the budget and that he will meet with his Cabinet to prepare for a shutdown.

Christie told reporters Saturday that the state will do what it must to function, either via federal funding or by running up a tab.

Lawmakers were in the state capital, Trenton, on Saturday to work on resolving the standoff over the measure, pushed by Governor Chris Christie as way to help fund drug addiction services.

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.

This is Christie's first government shutdown in his two terms, and the first since 2006 under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.

"Could be a Sunday session in Trenton: 'If there's not a resolution to this today, everyone will be back tomorrow, ' Christie says", wrote Hanna Saturday morning.

"We will not be very happy, to put it nicely", said Deck, 50, of Jackson, who added that the outing was a weekend ritual for her family.

Though some signs have popped up around the state blaming the mess on Prieto, it's likely that the wildly unpopular Christie will ultimately take the fall.

Horizon opposes the proposed changes.

Christie has said that he'll sign any budget that lands on his desk.

"I've been coming here for 18 years". Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to universities is awaiting passage until lawmakers pass a revenue plan. "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".

  • Jon Douglas