NJ government shutdown continues amid political stalemate

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

New Jersey's government shutdown continues after lawmakers left Sunday’s session on the budget without coming to an agreement.

The shutdown has come down to a disagreement between Christie and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Christie says he won't sign the budget unless it includes a measure to use the state's largest health insurer's, Horizon Blue Cross's, surplus money to fund treatment for opioid use. Democrats are split, with Speaker Prieto opposed to the plan, but Democratic Senate President, Steve Sweeney behind it.

Prieto said he is open to a bill on Horizon Blue Cross that is separate from the budget.

Christie has threatened to line-item veto funding for 72 projects that Democrats have pushed for if he doesn't get the Horizon Bill passed. One of those projects is the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which relies on state money to stay open.

"I want everyone to understand and I've said this today to all of the leaders of the legislature," Christie said in a press conference Sunday. "The legislature is making a choice here. This government is not open because I can't constitutionally let it be open. I don't have any money and so, as of July 1, I had no money. Now I’ve told them I will sign a budget if they send it to me."

The shutdown does not affect state police or NJ Transit service but has closed down non-essential services like state parks and the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Since an agreement on a budget has still not been reached the shutdown remains in effect. 

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