N.J. state parks to reopen for July 4, budget deal reached

 New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, left, D-West Deptford, and New Jersey Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, right, D-Secaucus,shake hands as they announce an agreement to end the New Jersey budget impasse Monday, July 3, 2017, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, left, D-West Deptford, and New Jersey Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, right, D-Secaucus,shake hands as they announce an agreement to end the New Jersey budget impasse Monday, July 3, 2017, in Trenton, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

State parks in New Jersey will be open for the Fourth of July. Governor Christie and the the Democratic leaders in the Legislature have reached a compromise that will allow the 2018 Fiscal Year budget to be approved ending a three-day government shutdown.

The impasse was the result not of the budget itself but over Christie’s insistence that excess revenues from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield should be used for public benefit, such as helping stem the opioid crisis.

At a news conference Monday night at the capitol Senate President Steven Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said the compromise deal means Horizon will face annual audits of its financial reserves and any excess profits to be used for the benefit of the its policy holders. 

Prieto opposed Christie’s demand that Horizon give the state $300 million for opioid prevention efforts saying it was unfair to Horizon. “This agreement protects Horizon’s ratepayers from unreasonable last-insurer-of-resort demands and ensures excess reserves go to either ratepayers or to reduced premiums. Horizon ratepayers – a significant part of our state’s population – will not be unfairly taxed, as previous plans allowed,” said Prieto.

Without a budget, state parks were shut down along with other nonessential state services, including state courts and the motor vehicle offices where people go to get driver’s licenses. Tens of thousands of state workers are furloughed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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