TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A budget impasse that shuttered government and state parks and beaches for three days ended on the Fourth of July when Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a deal he and the Democratic Legislature crafted.
Christie, who lounged with his family on a beach that was closed to the public over the weekend and was roundly criticized for it, said he was saddened the budget deal had come three days late. He signed it early Tuesday morning.
He rejected the idea that the aerial photos of him on the beach snapped by NJ.com had any effect on his negotiations.
“There will be some people who say, ‘It affected his negotiating ability,'” Christie said. “Let me tell you something, man, I got exactly what I wanted tonight. It doesn’t affect my ability to do my job.”
He said he had ordered all closed state parks to reopen for Independence Day. And he said state government will open on Wednesday and state workers will get a paid holiday Tuesday at his request.
Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced the budget deal late 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.
WEB EXTRA: NJ Senate President, General Assembly Speaker Announce Budget Deal
The Assembly and the Senate approved the budget early Tuesday.
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 legislation to overhaul Horizon.
Without a budget, state parks were shut down along with other nonessential state services, including state courts and the motor vehicle offices where people go to get driver’s licenses. Tens of thousands of state workers are furloughed.
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