SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – As the state’s budget impasse and shut down continue for a third day, furloughing some 35,000 state workers, township officials said there would be no impact to local services.
Township Manager Bernard Hvozdovic alerted residents on Sunday that the shutdown of state offices by Gov. Christopher Christie has no impact on township municipal services.
“All services remain normal and Township offices will be open on Monday as normal,” he said in a Nixle alert to residents.
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The South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management received the following update from State officials about the shutdown:
“The NJ Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the NJ State Government Shutdown,” it said. “On Friday, June 30, 2017, Gov. Chris Christie signed Executive Order 228 - Declaring a state of emergency and maintaining that essential state government services continue operating for the people of New Jersey, as the failure of the Legislature to act on a Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget by yesterday’s constitutional deadline forces the closure of state government.”
Included among the essential functions that will remain in operation:
State Police, state correctional facilities, key child welfare services, state hospitals and treatment facilities, NJ TRANSIT, and operations linked to the health, safety, and welfare of the public, including certain environmental and health monitoring. The state closure also will NOT impact the State Lottery, casinos and racetracks.
Some of the agencies and offices closed, according to the state:
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.
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission: All MVC agencies and inspection stations will be closed. Online services will still be available. South Brunswick MVC offices on Route 130 CLOSED.
For more details on non-essential services that are closed as well as operations that will remain open, check the website of that department or agency.
Links to many major state agencies and a brief description of services impacted are provided in the official Press Release at http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/552017/approved/20170630f.html.
The shutdown comes after a deadlock between Christie and the state legislature in reaching a budget agreement by the constitutionally mandated deadline of June 30.
In a statement Friday, Christie announced his executive order 228, closing state services until an agreement could be reached.
“This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and re-open New Jersey’s government,” said Governor Christie. “This was completely avoidable. But Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto needlessly stalled the budget process, forcing the closure of New Jersey government and inconveniencing everyone living in and visiting our state.”
Both State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker made statements during the weekend regarding the shutdown.
"I feel terrible for the people," Bateman said after leaving Trenton on Saturday. "They should be sitting down in a room together to work this out, but no one wants to give an inch. They're both backed into a corner and no one wants to give an inch."
Bateman, who voted against S-4, said that it could pave the way for the government to raid Horizon’s reserve funds at the expense of the millions who rely on the insurer. His statement is as follows:
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but health insurance is expensive enough as it is already. If a policy holder has overpaid in premiums, that money should go back into their pocket – not into a slush fund for the government,” he said. “I have tremendous respect for Sen. Vitale and I know he worked very hard on this bill, but any proposal to raid Horizon’s reserves is completely irresponsible. There is no justification for forcing a stable insurance agency to become unstable, especially given everything that is going on in Washington.”
Bateman said the bill would hurt the most vulnerable in the state.
“Nearly half of all New Jerseyans are Horizon customers, including some of our most vulnerable residents. By passing this bill, the Legislature made a risky, rushed decision that may very well put millions of people in a position where they can no longer afford health insurance,” he said. “I will continue to stand up for my constituents to ensure that everyone can access the affordable care they need to stay healthy. I hope that my colleagues will find a way to do the same.”
Zwicker, D-16, also issued a statement criticizing Christie and the Horizon bill on Sunday.
"Disagreements in politics are inevitable, but the disagreements over this budget were not good faith disputes over funding priorities. Instead, the Governor threatened to eliminate school aid increases and other important programs if we do not meet his demands, and he has now shut down our state government to make good on those threats,” his statement said. This is no way to lead, and the people of New Jersey deserve better. The controversial proposal on Horizon, which I cannot support in its current form, remains at the center of this harmful impasse and government shutdown. With the attacks on the Affordable Care Act in Washington, D.C., the future of healthcare is uncertain, and tens of millions of Americans in New Jersey and around the country are at risk of losing their health insurance,” he said. “Lives are literally at stake. While we absolutely must ensure that Horizon is acting in a responsible, accountable way, we should do so through our usual legislative process. Tying the Horizon proposal to the State’s budget is arbitrary and unnecessary.”
He said he did not vote on the proposed budget on Thursday to allow more time for the Legislature and the Governor to strike a compromise that would ensure his signature on the budget as it is, which includes critically important funds for property tax relief, healthcare, infrastructure and school aid.
He said he did, however, voted to approve a plan on Friday to avoid the shut down.
“In my legislative district alone, school districts in Manville, Somerville Borough and Montgomery would receive much-needed boosts in funding, to the benefit of thousands of children,” he said. “While the budget is not perfect, particularly because of a flawed lottery-pension scheme it incorporates, on Friday I voted yes to ensure that we did not shut down the government. I am always proud and grateful to serve the 16th Legislative District in the General Assembly. I urge all New Jerseyans to contact the Governor and urge him to commit to signing the budget in its entirety without conditions, and end the shutdown."