‘That’s Him’: Christie Goes to the Shore, and the Critics Pounce

The governor and his family were easy to spot on the shimmering Jersey Shore, amid 10 miles of a state beach closed by a budget standoff, even from 1,000 feet above.

Andy Mills, a 6-foot-3-inch photographer for The Star-Ledger, dangled out of a Cessna 152 two-seater and aimed his long lens at what looked like just dots on the sand. Following a hunch that with an empty Sunday morning schedule, Gov. Chris Christie might be indulging in some private holiday weekend sun on a beach he had ordered closed as part of a government shutdown, Mr. Mills fired away.

The hunch paid off.

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With Budget Signing, State is Back in Business — Just in Time for the 4th

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Budget Deadlock Stretches into Day 3, Thousands of State Workers Idled

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Going to a New Jersey State Park or Beach? Not This Holiday Weekend

ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK, N.J. — This spot is usually a choke point for shore traffic, not a U-turn. Yet roughly every 10 minutes on Saturday morning, a new vehicle approached the entrance to the beach here — some packed with beach chairs, beach balls, fishing rods and anticipation — only to be met by two police cars and a barricade.

A single yellow sign stapled to a makeshift but unyielding blockade read: “These facilities are closed until further notice.”

That sunny anticipation quickly turned to frustration.

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New Jersey Government Shuts Down Over Budget Standoff

The New Jersey state government was forced to shut down at midnight on Friday, as the State Legislature remained locked in a standoff with Gov. Chris Christie that left them unable to agree on a budget plan.

The most immediate effect of the shutdown will be on those headed to state-run parks and beaches for the holiday weekend. Mr. Christie’s office indicated that those parks and beaches would be closed, although their municipal counterparts will remain open.

Mr. Christie declared a state of emergency and called for a special session of the Legislature for 11 a.m. Saturday. Essential government services were to continue operating.

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New School Aid Left in Limbo as Pols Take Budget to 11th Hour

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Christie orders state to prepare for shutdown over budget impasse

TRENTON a Gov. Chris Christie Thursday night ordered state agencies to prepare for a funding freeze for nonessential services hours after blaming Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto for sending the state careening toward a government shutdown.

In a letter to his cabinet members, Christie told officials to "review and prepare to implement contingency plans in the event of a government shutdown due to inaction by Assembly Speaker Prieto."

The letter was drafted after Prieto (D-Hudson) refused to let the Assembly vote on a bill allowing the state to tap into the reserves of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

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Democrats Plot to Oust Prieto Unless He Caves on Horizon

By Salvador Rizzo • 06/28/17

Observer

Vincent Prieto.

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In an explosive development, a group of Democratic lawmakers is planning to oust Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on Thursday if he refuses to post a bill that would restructure New Jersey’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, three sources told Observer.

Gov. Chris Christie for months has been calling on lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow the state to raid the insurer’s $2.4 billion reserve fund after he leaves office. Christie wants the state to take roughly $300 million a year from the not-for-profit company and devote it to drug treatment programs, a move that would provide relief for the cash-strapped state budget.

The state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved a similar bill on Monday, sponsored by Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex). The bill has been fast-tracked this week and is up for a vote in the full Senate on Thursday. Democrats say Christie has agreed to an extra $125 million they added for schools in the new $34.7 billion state budget due Saturday, so long as they give him a Horizon bill and another, non-controversial piece of legislation.

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Less Crime, Fewer Prisoners – New Senate Bill Creates Incentives to Reduce Mass Incarceration

Brennan Center for Justice

June 28, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Lawmakers introduced a bill today that would use the power of the purse to reduce incarceration and crime at the same time. The legislation attempts to counter archaic “tough-on-crime” policies coming from the Attorney General.
 
The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act of 2017 was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.). The bill, based on a 2015 proposal by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, is widely-backed by civil rights advocacy groups and supporters of criminal justice reform.
 
The bill is essentially the reverse of the incentives provided in the “1994 Crime Bill.” Instead of incentivizing states to increase prison populations, the legislation would pay states to decrease them, while keeping down crime. Federal grants have long created perverse incentives for states and localities to boost their prison populations, even when doing so provides little public safety benefit. The bill would encourage states to embolden their reform efforts, even while Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempts to increase the federal prison population.

 

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Clean Energy Fund Raided (Again) to Plug Last Hole in State Budget

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