TRENTON, N.J. -- Gov. Chris Christie agreed late Monday to sign a budget deal and end a government shutdown that had closed state parks and beaches to the public.
The governor ordered all closed state parks to reopen for the Fourth of July. State government will open on Wednesday and state workers will get a paid holiday on Tuesday, July 4.
Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced the budget deal earlier Monday. The deal calls for a $34.7 billion budget that includes more than $300 million in Democratic spending priorities and is part of an agreement to overhaul the state's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Horizon legislation calls for annual audits of the nonprofit's reserve level, sets a range for reserves and requires excess to be spent on policyholders. The budget stalemate centered on Christie's desire for Horizon to give $300 million dollars from their reserve account to pay for the expansion of services for those dealing with addiction in the state. .
Ocean County experienced Island Beach State Park, just north of Barnegat Light being shut down along with other nonessential state services. The other areas affecting Stafford and LBI residents include state courts in Toms River and the motor vehicle offices where people go to get driver's licenses and registrations, etc.
Tens of thousands of state workers were furloughed during the three day shutdown.
The key players in the shutdown were Governor Christie, who would not sign the Democratic backed budget without getting funding from Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield to assist in his new opoid addiction prevention campaign.
Steve Sweeney has been the top elected Democrat for the past eight years, serving as Senate President.
Vincent Prieto is a former plumber from Hudson County and was adamantly opposed to charging Horizon $300 million from it's surplus for Christie's initiative. He was strongly opposed knowing that the insurer would pass the cost on to New Jersey's policyholders.