Beachgoers looking to spend a long Independence Day weekend at Island Beach State Park will be out of luck, at least on Saturday.
The park is closed due to the shutdown of New Jersey state government that occurred at midnight Friday, after Republican Gov. Christie Christie and the leaders of the Democratic-controlled legislature failed to hammer out a deal on using surplus revenue from Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield to fund drug treatment programs. Christie wants to measure included in the budget, while the Democratic leader does not.
The park closure, as well as Liberty State Park in Jersey City, will likely be the two highest-profile closures, given the fact that many have taken off for a long weekend leading up to July 4. Barnegat Light State Park will also be closed. Unlike the last shutdown, which occurred in 2006 under Gov. Jon Corzine, Atlantic City casinos will remain open during the shutdown. In 2006, gambling operations ceased, but in the years since, policies were changed to keep the casinos open. Municipal beaches will all remain open.
Christie has called for a special legislative session at 11 a.m. Saturday to attempt to reach a compromise, though Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has held steadfast in his opposition to using the Horizon funding for drug treatment as part of the budget process, calling is a separate issue. There are also some legislators angry about a budgetary plan to use lottery funds toward the state’s beleaguered pension system instead of education, for which it was originally earmarked.
“The Governor will be here early tomorrow to continue to work for the people of New Jersey,” Christie’s spokesman, Brian Murray, said in a late-night press release.
Christie said he has not asked to speak before the legislative session that he called. In New Jersey, the governor has constitutional power to compel the legislature to meet, which Christie did by way of an executive order issued at the midnight deadline.
Christie’s office gave a rundown of which government agencies, exactly, would be shut down and which would remain active.
- 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 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.
- New Jersey 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.
- New Jersey Department of Labor: 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 withspecial 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.