June 30, 2017
New Jersey lawmakers missed their midnight deadline to approve a spending plan, forcing the closure of state government.
"This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and re-open New Jersey's government," said Gov. Chris Christie in declaring the government shutdown.
For the second time, the Assembly considered the nearly $35 billion spending plan but voting stalled on Friday night with 26 votes in favor, 25 against and 24 abstentions, the Associated Press reported. Forty-one votes are needed to pass the budget.
The current fiscal year budget expired at midnight, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said he would leave the board open overnight, according to NJ.com.
Without a budget in place, payments from the state treasury are prohibited by the state Constitution.
The standoff is largely the result of a disagreement between Prieto and Christie over a measure that targets the state’s largest health insurer.
In an early Saturday morning tweet, Christie placed blame for the shutdown squarely on Prieto.
.@VincentPrieto unnecessarily stalled the budget process forcing this closure & inconveniencing everyone living in & visiting our state.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) July 1, 2017
Christie's office also released the following statement:
"The Governor will be calling for a special session tomorrow at 11 a.m. He has not asked, either formally or informally, for the opportunity to address that session. The Governor has no idea why the Speaker is denying him the right to give a speech that he hasn't even asked to give. The Governor has called the session not to give speeches but to try to work to convince the Speaker to reopen the government the Speaker has closed tonight. The Governor will be here early tomorrow to continue to work for the people of New Jersey."
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Christie had reiterated that he would shut down government if a budget did not reach his desk.
He told reporters that state legislators had two choices: approve both the nearly $35 billion budget as well as a controversial bill that affects Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, or OK a budget without the Horizon bill and forgo $325 million for Democratic projects.
"They don't want either one of them," the governor said. "What do you want me to do?"
The government shutdown is Christie's first in two terms, and the first since 2006 under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.
Prieto said he blames those abstaining for closing down the government.
On Saturday morning, state facilities like the Island Beach State Park and front doors of the New Jersey State House in Trenton had posters blaming Prieto for their closure along with a phone number for his office, according to posts on social media.
The shutdown comes at the start of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend. State parks and nonessential services like the Motor Vehicles Commission will be shuttered. It was not immediately known how soon state parks would close.
Prisons, the state police and casinos will remain open.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This story has been updated Saturday around 12:30 p.m.