ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – After three slotless nights at Resorts Atlantic City, Lucille Mock was packing her bags to head home Saturday morning when she heard the news: the casinos had reopened!
“I lost $75 in the first 15 minutes, but that’s OK,” said Mock, 49, of New York City’s Brooklyn borough.
A weeklong government shutdown that shuttered Atlantic City’s 12 casinos formally ended Saturday, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a $30 billion compromise spending plan. Earlier in the day, he signed an executive order clearing the way for lottery ticket sales to resume, state parks to reopen and casinos to get back in the game.
“I was hoping we would have something better to do than hang around the Statehouse on a Saturday night” Corzine joked before signing the spending plan – which includes a sales tax hike and property tax relief – shortly before 7 p.m. at his Statehouse office.
New Jersey’s 12 casino-hotels, closed since Wednesday, rumbled back to life hours after lawmakers finished the budget during an all-night session in Trenton.
The shutdown furloughed 45,000 state workers, including the state casino inspectors who by law must be present in New Jersey’s 24-hour casinos. That forced the gambling halls to close, idling about 36,000 casino employees.
The budget crisis began when Democrats who control the state Assembly balked at the Democratic governor’s proposal to increase the sales tax.
The resulting impasse caused the Legislature to miss the July 1 deadline for passing a new budget. With no authority to spend money, Corzine ordered nonessential government services suspended.
Under the budget compromise approved Saturday, Corzine and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. agreed to increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, but set aside half the new money to help cut property taxes.