If you took a ride to DMV like I did… Saturday was a rough morning as you were hit with the stark reality that you couldn’t renew your driver’s license in Hudson County or elsewhere in the state since Gov. Chris Christie ordered a government shutdown.
And believe me when I tell you that I was in good company at the Lodi (Bergen County) Agency.
Angry, frustrated drivers — myself included — shook their heads in disbelief when they drove into the parking lot met by other drivers shouting, “It’s closed,” then had to turn around and drive out.
Only the second time in the state’s history — the shutdown includes New Jersey state parks and beaches, as well as motor vehicle services offices just as New Jerseyans are gearing up for the July 4 holiday weekend.
Such essential services as New Jersey State Police and psychiatric hospitals are not affected. The state lottery and NJ Transit are staying in operation.
The governor signed the order after Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) refused to let the lower house of the Legislature vote on a bill giving the state power to tap into the reserves of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to fund addiction treatment, reports nj.com.
“This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and re-open New Jersey’s government, ” Christie says.
“This was completely avoidable. But state Assembly Speaker Prieto needlessly stalled the budget process, forcing the closure of New Jersey government and inconveniencing everyone living in and visiting our state.”
Christie ordered cabinet members to review their agencies to determine what met the “essential service” threshold, or those that protect the health, safety and welfare of the state’s residents.
According to State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), he agreed to vote on the proposal.
As of Thursday, it had enough votes to pass the measure, which was bound to any agreement on the state budget.
The first shutdown in 2006 was sparked by a dispute over sales and property taxes between Gov. Jon Corzine and Democratic Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts.
Everything from state parks to courts to motor vehicle offices and 12 Atlantic City casinos closed for the first time ever. Casinos are no longer subject to state shutdowns.
Corzine ordered more shutdowns on July 4 — and by July 8, the Legislature adopted a budget.
By that Monday morning, July 10 all government services were fully restored.
When it comes to the current shutdown, it will remain in effect until lawmakers break the impasse and Christie signs a budget.
For a complete list of closures and what you can find open, check out…