The 3-day government shutdown has ended as Gov. Chris Christie has signed the fiscal year 2018 state budget into law after reaching a compromise with Democratic leaders in the legislature.
"My Fiscal Year 2018 budget completes eight straight years of instilling fiscal sanity in Trenton, accomplished by making the difficult choices too many of my predecessors were afraid to do in the face of strong political pressures," Christie said. "This balanced budget, like the seven before it, sets up New Jersey for a year of economic growth and improved quality of life, highlighted by a reduced tax burden for residents and employers."
The stalemate between the two sides was due to Christie's insistence that use surplus revenue from Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield to fund drug treatment programs. Assembly Speaker Vincent Preto, who has clashed with Christie on this point, said the compromise means Horizon will face annual audits of its financial reserves and any excess profits to be used for the benefit of the its policy holders.
DEP Commissioner Bob Martin announced late Monday evening that all state parks, forests, historic sites and recreation areas will re-open on Tuesday, July 4, after being closed for the last three days as a result of the shutdown. All state offices will reopen and furloughed employees will be returning to work.
Monmouth County Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced that the new deal will also bring additional funding to local schools.
"The budget deal for fiscal year 2018 will not only bring the New Jersey shutdown to an end, but will provide for many of the crucial programs that so many New Jerseyans depend on," Houghtaling and Downey said in a release. "For us, this fight has always been about funding for our local schools. When negotiations began, many of our districts were facing unacceptable budget cuts that would have put the educational rights of our students at risk. By remaining steadfast and putting pressure on legislative leadership, we were able to secure more than $1.2 million in additional funds for 11th District schools."
The 11th district includes local towns Long Branch, Tinton Falls, Eatontown, Ocean Township and West Long Branch.