SOMERSET HILLS NJ - The politicians in Trenton are at a standstill. The State Legislature failed to pass the 2018 New Jersey budget by the constitutional deadline of June 30. As a result, Governor Christie signed Executive Order 228 declaring a state of emergency, and shutting down state government with the exception of essential functions.
The state government shutdown will not have an immediate impact on the Somerset Hills. The New Jersey State Police will continue to patrol I-287 and I-78. The area's four local police forces will continue to protect residents because they are funded by local taxpayers. New Jersey Transit will continue to provide Somerset Hills residents and commuters the same level of service that they have come to expect.
Nearby Hacklebarney State Park will be closed. However, Natirar Park in Peapack will remain open because it is owned and operated by Somerset County, not the state. Anyone in the Somerset Hills who planned to travel to Island Beach State Park will be disappointed to learn that the park is shut down.
Some will benefit from the shutdown. Matt Rooney, publisher of the Save Jersey Blog, reports that his site is experiencing record traffic.
The Christie Administration published the following list of services that will be shut down:
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 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 displayswill 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.