New Jersey Marks Day 3 Of Government Shutdown Over Budget Impasse
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
In New Jersey at this hour, there does seem to be some movement on the budget. This became a national story after the governor was photographed on a state beach that was closed to the public. Joe Hernandez of member station WHYY in Philadelphia is with us to talk about it. And Joe, what are you hearing from Trenton?
JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: Well, Ari, it looks like there may be a break in the stalemate tonight. Local media is saying that some legislators have said that there is an agreement in the works and that lawmakers are being called back to Trenton possibly for a vote tonight.
SHAPIRO: What was the holdup?
HERNANDEZ: Well, it came down to a disagreement between Republican Governor Chris Christie and Democratic State Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto. It was about a bill to take surplus money from the state's largest health insurer and use it for anti-addiction campaigns in the state. Christie wanted it. Prieto didn't. And Christie said he wouldn't sign the Democrats' budget without the bill to take money from the health insurer.
SHAPIRO: How has this shutdown affected the state?
HERNANDEZ: Well, the state shut down Friday night after they passed the deadline to pass a new fiscal year budget. It was the first time that that happened since 2006, which was the first time it happened in state history. The highest profile moment probably over the weekend was when NJ Advance Media, which owns the Newark Star-Ledger, published photos they had taken of Christie on the beach house given to the governor. Now, the reason that was controversial is because public - state-owned public beaches and parks were closed over the weekend to the public, but Christie was photographed enjoying that closed public beach with his family and friends. And so people saw some hypocrisy in that.
The state also closed motor vehicle offices, so people couldn't get new driver's licenses or renew registration. And they also barred people from getting things like birth and marriage certificates. There was a worry that it would disrupt the July Fourth holiday. A lot of people go to the shore for that. But it does - it appears that maybe there will be a vote tonight, and that will be a moot point.
SHAPIRO: That's Joe Hernandez of member station WHYY in Philadelphia. Thanks a lot.
HERNANDEZ: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.