TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie signed a multimillion dollar budget deal for the State of New Jersey in the wee hours Tuesday, three days after a government shutdown closed parks and beaches across the state.
Parks and beaches were open for business right in time for the 4th of July.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto had announced the resolution in a news conference Monday night.
In tweeting a photo of himself signing the $34.7 billion budget deal, Christie touted his own record of “two full terms of unprecedented pension stability, fiscal responsibility, and tax relief.”
As CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported, the deal came amid pressure from angry taxpayers who were turned away from shuttered state parks, and residents who were venting their frustration about lawmakers.
But with the deal finally in place, Christie took some credit for helping bridge the divide between the state Assembly and Senate.
“Until they were they were in a place where they were close, I couldn’t bridge the gap,” Christie said.
The budget includes more than $300 million in Democratic spending priorities and also accomplishes Christie’s goal of overhauling the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.
State Parks Back Open, But Jersey City Fireworks Still Relocated
With the shutdown over, many were glad to have access once again to facilities such as Liberty State Park – from locals who use the park regularly to tourists who take the ferry to get to the Statue of Liberty.
“We were really glad we woke up this morning and we were able to take a ride in the park,” said Tim Lezegus of Jersey City.
News of state parks reopening across New Jersey even had at least one man leaping with excitement, as police allowed the first groups into Liberty State Park after the shutdown.
“It’s about time they got together and got something done,” a parkgoer said.
But the shutdown came too late for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration typically held on the sprawling lawn at Liberty State Park.
Because there was no telling when the shutdown would end, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop had made the decision to move the popular show attended by thousands to the waterfront at Exchange Place, a much smaller confined space.
Fulop said it was too late to scramble and move the festivities back.
“Look, it’s a failure of government down in Trenton. They had one responsibility and they failed at it, and they put lot of people at a lot of inconvenience, including a lot of our employees, but we’re going to try to make lemonade out of lemons,” Fulop said.
“We all get together and make it happen,” said Jersey City employee Eric Johnson
Crews in Jersey City were setting up the main stage ahead of the crowds early Tuesday afternoon. Vendors had to adjust their plans too for the new location.
“Back and forth, we have to do what we have to do,” said vendor Freddy Gallo.
Repeat revelers such as Sue Wecht said the venue may be different, but she was willing to adjust to celebrate.
“You really can’t be angry at it, right?” Wecht said.
Jersey City natives Kool and the Gang were set to headline the Exchange Place event. Organizers hoped the location would not affect turnout.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)