You already knew your governor gave zero Fs about you, but just in case you hadn’t seen it already, here’s a gallery of pictures of Chris Christie enjoying a public beach with his family, empty because he shut it to everyone else on Saturday morning when the state shutdown went into effect. You can also listen to his sorrynotsorry apology for using the shuttered beach, via Fox 29 here: “I’m sorry they’re not the governor.”
Today some 30-35,000 state employees were furloughed and if the Trenton impasse continues, the casinos will close on Saturday, the Press of Atlantic City reports. There is also a shutdown in Maine right now, but government officials there kept their state parks open (my story for Reuters yesterday). We’re all being trolled by a master.
For those that want more background on what exactly is going on in Trenton, it’s not entirely about the budget. That was approved by committees. But Christie is threatening to strip out hundreds of millions of dollars (including for things like schools) from the budget, unless he gets a bill passed to restructure Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest insurer. Why does he want to restructure Horizon, now? He says Horizon is not transparent and pays its executives too much money. Others see the shadow of George Norcross (the South Jersey power broker owns a small stake in Amerihealth, which is losing money). (Christie was asked on Saturday whether he talked to Norcross about the Horizon bill. He said, “I discuss lots of things with George (Norcross) but I have not discussed the specifics of the Vitale (Horizon) bill with him.”)
Separate but kind of related to NJ’s budget issues – Route Fifty has a piece looking at whether the Supreme Court’s decision to take up New Jersey’s case on sports betting could in fact lead to a windfall for states. Read it here.
Happy July 4! Here’s all the rest of the state and local news from the weekend: There was a horrific stabbing in Ventnor, there’s a conflab over New Jersey attempts to require schools teach kids how to interact with police and avert altercations, and read about a new car-sharing service that’s spreading in South Jersey. All that and more below: