- Associated Press - Thursday, July 13, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Lawmakers moved forward Thursday with plans to pay state employees for time they missed during this month’s government shutdown.

The Democrat-led state Senate approved the measure by a 31-0 vote. Republican Gov. Chris Christie said he plans to sign the measure, but it first needs to be voted on in the state Assembly.

“State workers should not be punished for the government closure that was entirely out of their control,” Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said.

The bill says state employees involuntarily furloughed under Christie’s executive order shall receive their salaries or wage payments for the period of the government shutdown, which lasted from July 1-3.

Senators say the funding is already in the state budget so the legislation won’t cost any additional money.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat, said his chamber will vote by the end of the month.

A group of state workers also rallied outside the statehouse Thursday at an event organized by their union, the Communication Workers of America.

State beaches and parks, along with motor vehicle offices and other services deemed nonessential, were shut down at the start of the month after Christie and the Legislature failed to agree on a nearly $35 billion budget before the new fiscal year began.

Christie was photographed lounging on one of the closed beaches with his family during the shutdown, leading to backlash from opponents and memes around the internet.

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