Some New Jersey lawmakers balk at high price of Statehouse renovations

Some New Jersey lawmakers balk at high price of State House renovations.

Some New Jersey lawmakers balk at high price of State House renovations. (1/12/17)

TRENTON - Some New Jersey lawmakers say they are uncomfortable with spending $300 million to renovate New Jersey’s Statehouse.

New Jersey’s leaders held a meeting Thursday to discuss the project. While some say the price of fixing the over 200-year-old building is too great, other lawmakers say it is time to upgrade New Jersey’s headquarters.

“We know that it is an embarrassment to walk around one of the great states of America,” says New Jersey state Sen. Joe Kyrillos. “The place is falling down. It looks like it looked a half-century ago.”

The project would mean relocating the offices of Gov. Chris Christie and other executive branch members to a different location starting in July.

New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak says the price is too high and that he may fight the project in court.

“We have to put priorities in order because we do have a tight budget as you know,” he says.

New Jersey’s treasurer, Ford Scudder, defended the renovation. He says the Statehouse is actually dangerous because parts of it lack smoke detectors and sprinklers, and some fire escapes don’t work.

“There reaches a time where you're not going to be able to restore the Statehouse and you’re getting dangerously close to that,” Scudder says.

He also says that if the Statehouse doesn’t get renovated, it will need to be torn down.

Legislators agree that the safety issues need to be addressed, but the renovation may be put off. Sen. Lesniak says it's a Building Authority project, so the governor needs to pass his plan in a resolution through the Legislature.

Members of the Senate Economic Growth Committee say they will hold another hearing soon, and they want to hear from the public.

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