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No state budget after shutdown's first day

No state budget after shutdown's first day

The state of New Jersey entered its worst government crisis in over a decade Saturday when Gov. Chris Christie ordered a shutdown that sparked the closure of government offices and services deemed non-essential - including beaches and state parks.

Christie is demanding that the $34.7 billion state budget include a provision requiring that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield spend some of its reserve fund on public health initiatives - particularly the governor's drug treatment initiative.

Prieto is refusing to support Christie's Horizon bill, and his chamber remains deadlocked over the budget because some Democrats say they worry that Christie would line-item veto education spending in the budget if he doesn't get the Horizon legislation.

During the shutdown, essential services including health and safety operations as well as New Jersey Transit will continue to operate.

Christie's office even put a picture of Prieto on signs announcing the parks were closed. Among those affected were a group of Cub Scouts forced to leave a state park campsite and people trying to obtain or renew documents from the state motor vehicle commission.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy took aim at both Christie and his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Saturday morning, saying the shutdown was unnecessary.

In the Assembly, the budget impasse stems from the fact that some members of Prieto's own caucus - mostly Democrats representing districts in South Jersey - want to vote on the Horizon deal and have abstained from voting on the budget until that happens. "It's outside the budget, it has nothing to do with it", he said.

"The last that I can check, I don't have the executive order to shut down government", Prieto said during a press conference on Saturday.

Working against a midnight deadline, lawmakers negotiated into the night, hoping to dislodge a budget deadlock and prevent the state government from shutting down at 12:01 a.m. July 1.

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Also on Sunday, Democratic Senate President Steve, who's allied with Christie, called for a meeting with lawmakers and Horizon's CEO to try to hash out a way forward.

Drivers were also turned away at Island Beach State Park at the Jersey Shore.

"I'm upset because this will inconvenience the people of New Jersey", he said.

Christie on Friday presented a 2006 bill that Prieto co-sponsored that proposed using Horizon's surplus as a sign that Prieto was acting hypocritically.

"I'm open to doing things after we get the budget done and I'm still holding to that", he said.

A 30-year full-time resident of Ocean County's northern barrier Island, she said her feelings no doubt represented those of many other residents.

Democrats are splintered over the impasse, with Prieto opposed to the plan and Sweeney in favor. But on Friday evening, he intentionally kept the board open, telling reporters he had no intention of taking the vote down. The homes are guarded by the State Police, which remain on duty for the shutdown.

"The situation that has led to this shutdown is both disappointing and frustrating".

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