Updated at 3:15 a.m. ET
The July 4 holiday weekend got off to a rough start for New Jersey residents and tourists wanting to enjoy the state’s beaches, but a budget deal in the state legislature late Monday paved the way for the beaches to reopen.
Governor Chris Christie signed a $34.7 Billion budget agreement ending the impasse that led to a 3-day government shutdown.
When negotiators failed to reach a budget agreement by midnight Friday, Christie announced the impasse would force a partial government shutdown and close a lot of the state’s services including beaches, parks and the motor vehicle office.
The showdown was prompted partly by a rift between the Republican governor and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat. Christie had demanded that the governor’s office be given more control over the state’s largest health insurer.
The New York Times reports:
“Mr. Christie had demanded that the insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, turn over $300 million from its reserves, and refused to approve the entire budget without a separate Horizon bill.
“Last week, the state Senate, led by Mr. Christie’s ally Stephen M. Sweeney, passed such a bill. But the Assembly had refused to go along.
“After meetings on Monday with Robert A. Marino, the chief executive of Horizon, and conversations between the governor’s office and the leadership of both houses, a revised bill was crafted that the governor and legislative leaders found acceptable. Details of the Horizon bill were not immediately clear.”
Christie signed the budget measure early Tuesday morning.
This was New Jersey’s second government shutdown — the first happened in 2006.
Despite the shutdown, it was reported that the Christie family would still be spending the long weekend at the governor’s summer house at Island Beach State Park.
Asked about it by reporters, the governor responded: “I don’t know if it’s fair, but … my family doesn’t ask for any services while we are there.”
The story might have ended there if not for Gov. Christie and his family being photographed sunning themselves on the beach with no one around them.
The photos lit up social media and traditional news organizations.
In one of the most pointed headlines to come out of the beach brouhaha, the Asbury Park Press wrote, “Gov. Christie, get the h—- off the beach!”
The line references a directive issued by the governor in 2011, when Hurricane Irene was approaching.
“I saw some of these news feeds that I’ve been watching upstairs of people sitting on the beach in Asbury Park,” he said at a press conference then. “Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach.”