- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

5 p.m.

Gov. Chris Christie says he’s not worried about the prospects of shutting down the government as a stalemate between the Republican and lawmakers over whether to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer persists.

Christie addressed the possibility of a shutdown on Tuesday at an unrelated event in Trenton. He and lawmakers are constitutionally required to enact a budget by July 1.

Christie says Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is unique in the state and disputed Horizon’s claim that it’s a private company. Christie says they’re a creation of the state and that there’s no other company in their category.

Horizon opposes Christie’s proposal to overhaul the board, enact transparency measures and tap into the company’s surplus to fund opioid addiction.

A different bill requires Horizon to use excess surplus to benefit the state and policy holders passed the Senate budget committee. Christie declined to state his position on that bill.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has promised not to address any legislation dealing with Horizon as part of budget talks.


9:30 a.m.

The Republican nominee for governor seems to want to put the brakes on an effort to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer that has gotten wrapped into budget negotiations.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno posted a statement Tuesday on Twitter that said any major changes to the state’s health care system should involve more stakeholder discussions. She also said “last minute” budget talks are not the time to consider changes.

Her statement comes as the Democrat-led Assembly and Senate are set to vote Thursday on a nearly $35 billion budget.

The leaders of each chamber disagree over whether to enact legislation affecting Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The legislation is the center of budget talks after Republican Gov. Chris Christie called for changes to the company, initially in order to use its surplus to treat opioid addiction.


12:30 a.m.

New Jersey lawmakers have teed up a nearly $35 billion spending plan for a vote in the Democrat-led Legislature.

The Assembly and Senate budget committees approved the spending blueprint late Monday, including one of Gov. Chris Christie’s key budget proposals while also incorporating a Democratic overhaul of the state’s education aid.

A final vote is expected in both chambers Thursday. Friday is the deadline to enact a balanced budget.

What remains murky is whether the Republican governor will support the measure.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said Monday he would not include a provision sought by the governor to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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