Government services shut down in Maine and New Jersey, both states declare states of emergency

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Gov. Paul LePage has declared a state of civil emergency in Maine in the absence of an approved biennial budget by the state Legislature.

All nonemergency government functions are shut down until further notice. State parks managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will remain open.

The civil emergency state began July 1 after the Legislature failed to sign a budget into law by June 30, the last day of Maine’s fiscal year.

LePage, a Republican, submitted his budget to the Legislature in January. Expecting a budget standoff, he signed an executive order Friday directing state departments and agencies to take necessary steps for a state government shutdown.

“This is not about today or tomorrow,” LePage said in a statement. “This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough. I will not tax them anymore and in my budget overall taxes were decreased. Maine has plenty of revenue to fund state government without raising taxes.”

The administration said it will continue to pay most benefits administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, despite the shutdown of most government services.

New Jersey legislators also went home Saturday afternoon without passing a budget, leaving the state government shut down.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, signed a state of emergency permitting the operation of essential government services such as state police, correctional facilities, welfare services, state hospitals and treatment facilities. Also shielded from the shutdown are New Jersey Transit, the state lottery, casinos and racetracks.

The shutdown forces the closure of tourist attractions such as all 40 state parks, recreational areas, historic sites, state beaches and Liberty State Park just as the July Fourth holiday weekend gets underway. Campers who stayed in parks Friday night were asked to leave Saturday morning, Christie said. Public events in parks were canceled