As Trenton verges on shutdown, memories of 2006 N.J. budget crisis resurface

 New Jersey workers furloughed by the shutdown of the state government over the budget impasse crowd into the hallway outside the office New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine at the Statehouse in Trenton, July 5, 2006. (AP file photo)

New Jersey workers furloughed by the shutdown of the state government over the budget impasse crowd into the hallway outside the office New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine at the Statehouse in Trenton, July 5, 2006. (AP file photo)

Eleven years ago to the day, the halls of the State House in Trenton echoed with the same arguments sounding Friday.

“I’m willing to meet the Legislature halfway,” said Democratic Gov. John Corzine amid a budget deadlock with state lawmakers. “But I’m not willing to compromise and compromise and compromise until we essentially have a budget that represents the policies we’re trying to avoid.”

Legislators, meanwhile, had proposed a budget of their own to Corzine, but the two sides failed to reach a deal by the fiscal year deadline of June 30.

When the government shut down, so did some nonessential services.

State parks closed. All but seven employees in the Department of Banking and Insurance went home. The state lottery screeched to a halt. Even courthouses shut their doors.

“It is not merely a hypothetical Trenton crisis. This is a crisis in the lives of every New Jerseyan right now,” said Assemblyman Joe Malone, R-Burlington, at the time.

Just over a week later, on July 8, the Legislature passed a budget, and state employees went back to work.

It was the first and last time the state government in New Jersey had closed for business over a budget stalemate.

And now, lawmakers and the state’s 9 million residents are facing the prospect of another shutdown.

As Gov. Chris Christie and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto dig in their heels over their visions for the budget, state departments are submitting contingency plans to Christie in case of a closure.

It is unclear is how a 2017 shutdown would compare to 2006.

But it may not come to that: Christie invited top legislative leadership to a meeting Friday afternoon, ostensibly to negotiate their way out of the impasse.

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