Both bills come on the heels of Chris Christie’s infamous July 4th beach weekend, where he was spotted with his family on a beach closed to the public. The beach was closed because resolution on the state budget could not be reached, resulting in the shutdown of some state parks. The aerial picture made national headlines and sparked outrage as it served as a prime example of the political elite exploiting privileges when they are supposed to be serving the people that they elected. Chris Christie was already facing some of the lowest approval rates for any governor across the country after the fallout of the Bridgegate scandal, where his top aides orchestrated lane closures to create massive traffic problems in the district which was motivated by political revenge. The Governor continues to deny that he had any knowledge of the plan.
Assemblyman, John McKeon proposed bill A5128 which would keep public state parks and other NJ historic areas open to the public for the first week (7 days) of a state shutdown. The bill was designed to give tourists some extra wiggle room if they had booked a vacation during a week when a government shutdown occurs. Many NJ residents were out of luck during the recent shutdown as such a law was not in place.
Another bill, A5132 was introduced just days after Christie’s July 4th fiasco. That bill effectively states that no sitting governor is permitted to use the governor’s residence at Island Beach State Park during a state shutdown. This bill takes direct aim at Chris Christie. John Wisniewski an assemblyman of Middlesex had this to say:
“You would think that a governor of this state would know better than to utilize the very facilities that this state government’s inability to come up with an appropriations act closed down.”
The Bill passed 63-2 meaning many Republicans voted for it. Even Christie’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno criticized the Governor’s decision. Both bills now head to the State Senate for consideration before heading to the Governor’s desk.