July 1 (UPI) — Officials in New Jersey and Maine ordered their state governments to be shut down after legislators and executives failed to agree on budget deals.
At midnight Saturday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, both Republicans, signed orders to shut down their respective state governments.
Christie signed Executive Order 228, declaring a state of emergency and maintaining that essential state government services continue to operate after both parties failed to agree on a Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget by the deadline.
“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 said.
Public services from state parks to motor vehicle services offices will shut down, while the state lottery, NJ transit, police and psychiatric hospitals will remain functional.
Christie blamed the shutdown on Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, who refused to let the lower house of the Legislature vote on a bill to use money from insurer Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to fund addiction treatment, NJ.com reported.
“This was completely avoidable. But Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto needlessly stalled the budget process, forcing the closure of New Jersey government and inconveniencing everyone living in and visiting our state,” Christie said.
LePage signed a similar order in Maine, issuing a partial government shutdown through July 3 or until the newly declared state of emergency is terminated.
“This is not about today or tomorrow,” LePage said. “This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough. I will not tax them anymore and in my budget overall taxes were decreased. Maine has plenty of revenue to fund state government without raising taxes.”
The shutdown in Maine came after 60 House Republicans voted to block a $7.1 billion two-year spending plan, Maine Public Media reported, leaving lawmakers 13 votes shy of the two-thirds vote needed to pass the emergency budget.
Maine’s Republican-controlled senate had already endorsed the budget with a 34-1 vote, but LePage vowed to veto any budget that increased the state’s lodging tax without reducing the income tax, the Portland Press Herald reported.
“Every Democrat just voted not to shut down state government,” Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, said. “I think it’s going to be pretty clear who is responsible for this.”
The emergency orders marked the first state government shutdown in New Jersey since 2006 and the first in Maine since 1991.