Casino/lottery revenue loss in government shutdown of 2006 may have 2011 ripple effect

TRENTON – As the state waits to see what Gov. Chris Christie will do with the Democratic Legislature’s budget, at least one of his actions from this year shows that he may be ready to shut the government down – or at least he’s prepared in case a shutdown comes.

In 2006, Gov. Jon Corzine and the Legislature shut down Trenton while debating an increase to the sales tax. The standoff came to a halt when a court declared that the state’s casino security and lottery personnel were non-essential employees, sending Atlantic City and the multitude of lottery outlets across the state into a government-induced tailspin.

This past January, Christie signed an executive order that declares the Casino Control Commission employees, who run the lottery and casino security, essential employees under state guidelines, noting that the outcome in 2006 was “the closing of all New Jersey casinos and a loss of tax revenues to the State of New Jersey in excess of $1 million per day during the period of curtailment.”

Happy just to have passed the budget before the mandatory deadline, state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), said as he left the chamber today, “I’m not even thinking about any possibilities (of what the governor might do).”

“He has – not three options – he has four,” Sweeney said. “First, he could sign it, which we keep forgetting. Not likely, but he could.”

“He could line-item,” the Senate president said, which would avoid shutdown of state operations. Or, he said, “He could do a (conditional veto) or he could do a flat-out veto.

“The last two would be problematic, I think the last two would be very problematic. But, look, we gave him a budget that we’re very proud of.”


Casino/lottery revenue loss in government shutdown of 2006 may have 2011 ripple effect