New Jersey Braces for Government Shutdown Amid Budget Impasse

By Kate King Features Dow Jones Newswires

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told heads of state agencies to prepare for a possible government shutdown as Friday's midnight deadline for passing a balanced budget approached with lawmakers and the governor still at an impasse.

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"New Jersey state government, absent something happening in the next eight hours, will shut down," the Republican governor said Friday afternoon.

Only essential state employees would report to work in the event of a shutdown, the governor said. State beaches and parks would close, including Liberty State Park, which overlooks New York City and is scheduled to host more than 100,000 people for its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks display on Tuesday.

"There's an economic impact for real," Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said, adding that the city and local businesses have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the event.

Statue Cruises, which runs ferry trips to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park, said it would honor tickets at its Manhattan location or exchange them for later dates.

A four-day shutdown would impact more than 25,000 expected visitors and cost at least $850,000 in lost revenue to the company and related entities, a Statue Cruises executive said in a statement.

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Mr. Christie said he would sign the budget sent to him by Democrats, which includes more than $300 million in additional spending for education and other services, but only if lawmakers passed a bill giving the state more control over its largest insurer. The insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, has strongly opposed the legislation.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat, has refused to put the legislation demanded by Mr. Christie up for a vote, calling it an unfair intervention in the not-for-profit that shouldn't be part of the budget process.

If lawmakers don't approve the bill, Mr. Christie said he would line-item veto much of the additional spending added by Democrats from the budget.

Write to Kate King at Kate.King@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 30, 2017 18:22 ET (22:22 GMT)