Gov. Murphy orders state agencies to prepare for possible shutdown

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TRENTON -

New Jersey state agencies have been ordered to prepare for the possibility of a government shutdown.

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the agencies Friday to submit shutdown contingency plans by June 11 in the event that a state budget cannot be passed by the June 30 deadline.

Lawmakers are currently negotiating the state budget. Senate President Steve Sweeney said Thursday that he would be willing to let the government shut down if a school funding compromise isn’t reached.

Sweeney and the governor have differing opinions over how to resolve the inequities in school funding.

“That’s what this is all about - fighting over taxes, fighting over raising taxes,” says Politico reporter Ryan Hutchins. “The governor wants a millionaire's tax, higher taxes for millionaires. He wants to roll back a recent cut in the sales tax, put it back to 7 percent and Sweeny and Coughlin have been leery of doing either of those.”

The letter Murphy send to the agencies reads in part, "Accordingly, to prepare for the possibility that a balanced budget is not enacted by June 30, departmental contingency plans must be updated to ensure an orderly shutdown of state government, provide essential services, and protect state property."

If a government shutdown were to occur, Murphy would likely issue an executive order requiring a very limited number of state employees to report to work. 

Services would only be provided that are deemed essential to the health, safety and welfare of New Jerseyans. State workers deemed necessary to prevent the damage, loss or destruction of state property would also report to work.

It has been less than a year since the last government shutdown in New Jersey. It was under the Christie administration.

There was controversy surrounding the shutdown due to state parks being closed for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Former Gov. Chris Christie and his family were vacationing at the then-closed Island Beach State Park. Photographs of the governor on the beach, which was closed to the public, went viral. It became known nationally as “Beachgate.”

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