Summer beach days in jeopardy as government shutdown looms

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Summer days spent at some New Jersey beaches may be in jeopardy if state lawmakers fail to pass a state budget in time.

Lawmakers have until June 30 to pass a budget or face a government shutdown. The shutdown would mean all state beaches, parks and services would be closed – which is not something the beachgoers at state-run Island Beach State Park want to hear.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. You can see how many families come here,” says Toms River resident Sheree Dietze. “Just come to an agreement and let us live our lives and our summers here.”

If the government shuts down, it would most likely impact the Fourth of July holiday for a second year in a row.

“They should be thinking about these things way before Fourth of July weekend and the summer,” says Santo Locascio, of Elmwood Park.

During the three-day government shutdown of 2017, visitors at New Jersey’s state parks and beaches say that they were confused. Many still lined up to get in, despite the closures.

Then-Gov. Chris Christie ignited a backlash after he and his family were photographed sunbathing on the empty beach of Island State Park, while it was closed to the public.

Some business owners at the Jersey Shore say they are worried that a shutdown could hurt their revenues during the holiday weekend.

“We had a 70 percent loss of revenue for that weekend while Christie basked in the sun,” says Grump’s Bail and Tackle assistant manager Frank Zappella.

Current Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s top Democrats are divided on the issue of which taxes to raise to fund the multibillion-dollar budget.

Murphy says that all options are on the table, including a shutdown. But lawmakers say that they are confident that they will be able to come to an agreement by the deadline.

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