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New Jersey government shuts down over budget standoff

New Jersey government shuts down over budget standoff

That was Gov. Chris Chrstie's response to reporters on Saturday when asked why it was okay for his family to vacation at Island Beach State Park over the Fourth of July weekend - while everyone else was locked out of the popular destination because of the government shutdown Christie ordered, leaving state parks, beaches and other facilities closed.

Christie and his family are spending the holiday weekend at the governor's oceanfront retreat at Island Beach State Park, which has been closed to the public as part of the shutdown.

The National Association of State Budget Officers says the states without a budget on July 1 are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. 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.

Budget talks fell apart when Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto failed to support a bill to make over the state's largest health insurer.

- New Jersey's state government is shut down ahead of the fourth of July.

However, most of the anger on the Shore Saturday was directed not at the little-known speaker, but at the rumors that New Jersey's first family and their friends were inside the park at the governor's beach house - enjoying the surf and sun all for themselves - while the public was locked out. But Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who is facing a challenge for his speakership by an assemblyman who's allied with lawmakers who are refusing to vote on the budget, is still opposing the Horizon bill and refusing to put it up for a vote.

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.

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Another special legislative session has been called for 2 p.m. Sunday. "I don't know how much sleep Mary Pat and I will be getting", he said.

Christie has also demanded a bill to transfer state lottery funds into the underfunded public worker pension system to lessen its unfunded liability.

"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.

Christie said he would remove about $150 million in school funding and other items previously agreed with Democrats unless the Assembly passed the Horizon bill.

"Horizon is the only company that stayed in the [Obamacare] exchange".

Prieto has refused to consider the Horizon proposal in budget negotiations. "I would hate to see their reputations damaged ... by not coming to the table now and finding a solution". "We had an opportunity to get together in rooms over those hours and hammer out a compromise, and we didn't".

Prieto said a vote on the budget that remains deadlocked 26-25, with 24 abstentions, will remain open until those 24 abstentions change their minds.


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