Budget impasse leads to NJ government shutdown – here’s what’s open & closed
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie has directed nonessential state services to be shut down because New Jersey’s new fiscal year began Saturday without an approved budget.
Some functions are deemed essential and will remain in operation, such as the State Police, prisons, child welfare, state hospitals and NJ Transit. Casinos, racetracks and the lottery will not be impacted.
Many other services will be closed, including state parks and Motor Vehicle Commission agencies. Christie said it's somewhat helpful that the shutdown arrives on a weekend, when many offices are closed. A department-level list as announced by the Christie administration appears below.
“I’m not happy about this. This is completely avoidable," Christie said.
"I want to make clear to the people of New Jersey I’m ready to sign a budget. And quite frankly I don’t care which budget comes to me," he said, saying he'd either sign the budget with $325 million added by the Democrats or line-item veto it out, depending on what other companion legislation gets approved.
Christie called for a special session of the Legislature at 11 a.m. Saturday to deal with the budget impasse, though he didn’t ask to address lawmakers and can’t compel them to act.
"I won't be working alone. Bank on that," Christie said. "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 going to let 120 other people have the weekend off."
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, said the Assembly hasn't recessed its Friday meeting and technically can't be called because it's already in session -- although lawmakers won't necessarily be in Trenton at 11 a.m.
“I just look forward to hopefully getting this accomplished and minimizing the damage," Prieto said.
“The governor will want to go and paint me, that I’m the guy shutting down government. For all essence, he’s the one because he’s holding the budget ransom with these 24 members that have abstained that should be voting for it," said Prieto, referring to the lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- who refused to vote for the budget because a companion bill affecting Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield isn't being considered. "Those are the members that are shutting down government.”
The partial government shutdown is New Jersey's first since 2006, when Gov. Jon Corzine battled fellow Democrats over how to use the money generated from a hike in the sales tax.
The government was shut for eight days, and some 45,000 workers were furloughed -- though got back pay for the time they missed. Christie said that won't happen this time.
"Yeah, don't count on it. That was Jon "I'll Fight For a Good Contract For You" Corzine. I ain't him," Christie said.
Here’s a more detailed look at what services will remain open or close temporarily:
Department of Environmental Protection: All state parks, recreation areas, forests, and historic sites, including Island Beach State Park and Liberty State Park, will be closed; all public events within state parks and historic sites will be cancelled. The following will also be closed: permitting offices for Air, Historic Preservation, Land Use, Site Remediation, Solid Waste, and Water Supply; Green Acres and Blue Acres offices; Office of Dispute Resolution; Office of Permit Coordination; most of the Division of Fish & Wildlife (Wildlife Management Areas and on-line services will not be impacted); NJ Geologic Survey; and Rebuild by Design projects.
Department of Human Services: During the state closure, DHS' developmental centers and hospitals remain operational. Benefits and services related to DHS programs, including food stamps and child support, will not be impacted and providers of these services will continue to be paid. However, DHS' offices will be on skeleton staff and licenses, fingerprinting and other non essential services will be suspended until the state budget is approved.
Department of Transportation: Construction will continue, as will emergency repairs and some roadside safety services. The rest areas on I-295 in Deepwater, Salem County and on I-80 in Knowlton, Warren County, will be closed.
Motor Vehicle Commission: All MVC agencies and inspection stations will be closed. Online services will still be available.
Department of Law & Public Safety: Juvenile Justice Commission operations, State Medical Examiner Offices, and other public safety operations will continue, but some administrative offices will be closed.
Department of Health: The public will not be able to obtain copies of birth and marriage certificates, or copies of adoptees’ original birth certificates. No new certifications or renewals will be issued for EMTs, paramedics or Certified Nursing Assistants.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development: Unemployment Insurance and disability determination services will remain operational. Temporary Disability Insurance claims, Wage and Hour claims, and Family Leave Insurance claims may be filed, but they will not be processed. One Stop Career Centers (state not county services) will be closed; Workers Compensation Courts will be closed. Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services will be closed.
Department of Children and Families: Child abuse hotlines, protection services and response teams will continue to operate. Schools for children with special needs will remain open.
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: Veteran’s Haven North and South will remain in operation and National Guard will remain on call.
Department of Banking and Insurance: All offices will be closed except the IURO (health insurance internal appeals program).
Department of Community Affairs: Inspections related to construction codes, fire safety, fairs and fireworks displays will continue, however some public services will not be available.
Department of Corrections: Prisons and halfway houses will remain operational, although some inmate services will be impacted.
Department of Education: Katzenbach School will remain open. Phone help desks, customer service, and all other related staff-based assistance functions will be unavailable and all core public functions will be closed.
Economic Development Authority: EDA will not process any payments to businesses from any program (such as the Business Employment Incentive Program) which funding source needs to be authorized by the FY 2018 Appropriations Act.
Department of State: The travel and tourism welcome centers will be closed.
Department of the Treasury: July 1 pension checks have been processed and mailed. Taxation call centers and walk-in facilities will be closed. The Division of Risk Management will be closed, however the scheduling of medical appointments, treatments and services for injured workers will remain ongoing. The Division of Pensions and Benefits will be closed, although it will continue payment of health provider claims and life claims, and continue to process changes to family status for health benefits.
Statehouse tours will not be conducted Saturday.