By FOCUS, A Leonine Business
Images of New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie spending time on a public beach over the Fourth of July weekend stoked outrage not just in the Garden State, but also across the nation. The images proved to be controversial as the beach in question was closed to the public due to a shutdown of the state government, though Governor Christie was still able to enjoy use of the public oceanfront while ordinary citizens were not.
The shutdown came about as a result of a budget impasse between the heavily Democratic state legislature and Christie, a Republican. The two parties could not agree on legislation that would give the state more control over its largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, which Christie demanded come to his desk before the budget, according to NJ.com. State lawmakers were able to come to an agreement on both bills ending the shutdown effective July 5.
Meanwhile in Maine, a three-day shutdown came to an end as Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon came to agreement on a bipartisan budget that contained concessions from both sides, according to the Bangor Daily News.
Illinois has been in an ongoing quasi-shutdown since 2015, when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner took office and immediately began clashing with Democratic lawmakers over fiscal issues; the state has not passed a budget since 2015 and has only remained open through a series of court orders, according to NPR. This week the state inched closer to passing a budget for the first time in years, as the Senate voted to override Governor Rauner’s most recent budget veto. The House is expected to take up the measure in a veto session on July 6, the Daily Herald reports.
While these two shutdowns have been resolved, and the third inches towards a conclusion, they underscore the budgetary tensions that states with divided governments are facing at an increasing rate. Following 2013’s federal government shutdown, engineered by congressional Republicans in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the threat and use of the governmental shutdown has become a political tool that state lawmakers are less hesitant in wielding in order to fulfill their particular partisan or ideological goals, always to the detriment of citizens and local economies.
Unfortunately, these tensions are only likely to exacerbate. According to an analysis by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) looking at projected cost-shifts to states in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, states can expect to take on significant financial burdens from the federal government should any of the proposals outlined in the NASBO report become law. The president’s proposals would increase burdens on state government through a number of means, including requiring increased state spending on food stamps, emergency management programs, and a parental leave proposal. In the coming months, states will undoubtedly be keeping their eye on any budget proposals put forward by the U.S. Congress and how it may affect their own bottom lines.