- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The Latest on New Jersey’s fiscal year 2018 budget (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate budget committees have passed a roughly $35 billion budget.

The panels passed the measure late Monday.

It includes Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to transfer the lottery to the state pension as well as a Democrat-backed education funding overhaul, including $100 million for school aid. It also includes $25 million for pre-kindergarten and another $25 million for special education.

It’s unclear whether Christie will accept the proposal. He declined earlier Monday to weigh in on budget negotiations but said he saw no reason for a government shutdown.

The state constitution requires a balanced budget be in place by Saturday.

The full Assembly and Senate are expected to vote on the budget Thursday.


8:40 p.m.

The Democrat-led state Senate budget committee has approved legislation to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer and transfer the state lottery to the indebted public pension.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie had sought to tap into Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s surplus fund and to transfer the lottery as an asset to the pension fund to lower the state’s required payment.

It’s unclear if he supports the Horizon bill the Senate panel approved Monday.

The bill adds subscriber-elected members to Horizon’s board and also calls for establishing a range for the insurer’s surplus. If the range is exceeded, then the insurer would be required to spend the excess to benefit policy holders and the state’s residents.

Horizon opposes the plan and says it could carry costs that would result in higher premiums.


7 p.m.

Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t be shutting down the government but declined to weigh in on the Democrat-led Legislature’s effort to pass a roughly $36 billion spending plan by the approaching deadline.

The Republican governor spoke Monday on his regular radio call-in show on 101.5 FM. Christie and lawmakers face a Friday deadline to enact a balanced budget. He spoke the same day lawmakers were planning to introduce a budget.

At issue has been Christie’s proposal to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer and to transfer the state lottery to the indebted public pension fund as an asset in order to lower the unfunded liability. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto opposes including the health insurance bill in budget talks.

The Senate is considering a revamped measure to overhaul Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.


10 a.m.

New Jersey’s Democrat-led Legislature is scheduled to consider Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s roughly $35.5 billion budget.

Assembly and Senate committees have scheduled hearings Monday on the budget, which must be passed by July 1. But disagreement lingers over Christie’s proposal to use surplus funds from the state’s largest health insurer to finance opioid treatment.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has said Christie wants his proposal to use $300 million from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s surplus to finance an opioid addiction program to be under consideration during budget talks. But Prieto opposes the plan.

Senate President Steve Sweeney backs legislation that includes adding subscriber-elected members to Horizon’s board, in line with Christie’s proposal.

The Senate is also considering Christie’s legislation to transfer the lottery to the public pension as an asset.

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