How many times did the New Jersey government shut down before 2018?


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New Jersey has gone 219 years without the governor ordering the state to shut down. But the state has exceeded its budget deadline over the years, and in 1976 Brendan Byrne ordered the state Supreme Court to close all public schools – albeit for summer schooling – in the midst of a dispute over education funding.

Thanks to a deadlock on state spending and tax increases, Gov. Phil Murphy was only hours on Saturday to join a club that has so far only had two members: Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. These are his two immediate predecessors. But Murphy was able to strike a deal with Democratic lawmakers and agree to a budget that raises taxes and increases spending.

The New Jersey Constitution prohibits the state from spending money except on “appropriations by law.” Before Corzine shut down the government in 2006, governors did not interpret this provision as requiring them to suspend services, close offices and send workers home if a budget was not passed on time. Corzine’s predecessors kept the state government running for days beyond missed budget deadlines, simply maintaining existing funding levels.

Corzine and Christie, 11 years later, invoked the same provision in the state’s constitution when they issued executive orders to suspend non-essential services and employees on leave. Both noted that New Jersey did not have back-up mechanisms, such as a short-term budget resolution, to continue making payments in the absence of a formally adopted budget.

But even as they continued to spend money on essential services like prisons, police and child welfare services, governors appeared to defy the constitutional ban on spending money without legal authority, said Robert Williams, professor of constitutional law at Rutgers University. In New Jersey, this means an agreement between the governor and the legislature.

“One wonders, given this clause of the Constitution, how they spend money even on essential services,” Williams said. “I’m glad they do.”

Here’s a look at the history of New Jersey government shutdowns.


The state’s first real shutdown was ordered by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine on July 1, 2006, as he and his fellow Democrats in the legislature stalled on increasing the sales tax from 6 to 7 %.

Like Murphy, Corzine was a freshman governor from the upper echelons of Wall Street. But Corzine was looking to raise sales tax by a dime to close a $ 4.5 billion budget deficit, not to make “critical investments,” as Murphy put it, in areas like education. , public transport and pensions for public workers.

The shutdown ordered by Corzine was the first in the state’s history, forcing the closure of casinos, halting sales of lottery tickets, and the closure of state parks and beaches. He kept thousands of government workers at home and left road projects in limbo.

Corzine got his tax hike six days later in exchange for securing part of the property tax relief.

Archive: The 2006 NJ Government Shutdown – From Casinos to Courts Everything Was Quiet

Charles Stile: NJ stop: this beach chair pic from Chris Christie and more lessons for Phil Murphy


In his last year in office, Republican Gov. Chris Christie led a vigorous campaign against Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to agree to reshuffle the state’s largest health insurer in exchange for a budget. filled with Democratic priorities.

Prieto refused to budge and accused the governor of extortion. The time-limited and deeply unpopular Christie dug.

Then a photo of Christie sitting on a private beach closed to the public due to the closure blew it up. A day later, Christie signed the current budget.

He didn’t get everything he wanted, including a drug treatment fund backed by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, but Prieto passed a bill that Christie said “reformed them significantly.” Christie also secured another political achievement in the midst of the fight with Prieto: the transfer of state lottery income from the budget to the public employees’ pension fund.

Christie said the now infamous beach photo was overlooked in budget discussions. And he’s not dissuaded from putting his toes in the sand of the Governor’s private waterfront property at Island Beach State Park.

“I’m going to go back to the beach,” he said.


New Jersey flirted with a government shutdown in 2002, but then-Gov. Jim McGreevey used his executive power to call the legislature past the constitutional deadline to work on a budget he could sign.

McGreevey was looking to push through a $ 23.4 billion budget that would be balanced by his flagship proposal to raise corporate taxes. But a powerful contingent of fellow Democrats, seeking a new sports arena in Newark, defeated the bill.

A budget deal was reached on July 2 and a shutdown was avoided. McGreevey got the corporate tax hike on the promise of a vote for the Newark arena in the fall.


At the request of Governor Brendan Byrne, the State Supreme Court ordered the closure of all public schools on July 1, 1976 after the legislature and governor failed to comply with a three-year-old court ruling on funding of schools. The impact was minimal, however, as it applied during the summer break.

The Legislature sent a new form to Byrne, who signed it on July 7 to reopen the summer sessions. But the compromise reached with the legislature had a much more historical significance: it created the first income tax in New Jersey.


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