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Regulation and Compliance > State Regulation

New Jersey Keeps Insurance Officials Off Job

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The Garden State is continuing to operate without a fully functioning Department of Banking and Insurance.

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and state lawmakers have failed to come up with a regular budget or a temporary budget in time to keep the state operating on a normal basis.

Corzine, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, wants to increase the state sales tax to 7%, from 6%, and use a large share of the proceeds to eliminate a $4.5 billion deficit from the state’s $31 billion budget.

Some lawmakers want to use much of the increased sales tax revenue to reduce property taxes, and other lawmakers want to raise revenue without increasing the sales tax rate.

Because the New Jersey state government now lacks the legal authority to spend money, Corzine has ordered the shutdown of many operations.

“Due to the shutdown of State government ONLY EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE BEEN DESIGNATED AS ESSENTIAL should report to work,” officials have written in a note posted on the New Jersey banking and insurance department’s home page. “ALL NON-ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL (including field personnel) should NOT report to work until further notice.”

The department has been unable to operate on a normal basis since June 28. Corzine responded to flooding in the area of the state capital, Trenton, N.J., by issuing an executive order asking non-essential personnel to stay away. The June 28 order stayed in effect until Saturday, when Corzine issued a second executive order saying he was shutting down ordinary state regulations as a result of the lack of a budget.

One difference between the executive orders affects field personnel. In the executive order issued in response to flooding, Corzine asked state field personnel to report to work. In the new executive order, Corzine asks non-essential field personnel to stay home.

State prisons, the state police department, the child welfare operation, the state public transportation agency and some other departments deemed “essential” are continuing to operate on a normal or near-normal basis.

New Jersey has defined some insurance consumer assistance operations as essential operations.

The state is taking calls from residents who need help with a denial of health or medical coverage, a pre-existing condition, or termination of health or medical coverage, at (800) 838-0935 and at (800) 263-5912, according to the banking and insurance department Web site.

The state is taking calls about denials of medical care, treatment or services at (888) 393-1062.


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