N.J. lawmaker wants more scrutiny of $300 million plan to renovate Statehouse

A $300 million plan to renovate New Jersey's Statehouse in Trenton need further study

A $300 million plan to renovate New Jersey's Statehouse in Trenton need further study

A New Jersey lawmaker wants a public hearing on Gov. Chris Christie’s $300 million plan to renovate the Statehouse in Trenton.

There is no doubt work is needed to improve the safety and appearance of the building, said Sen. Ray Lesniak.

But he said there are no specifics on whether the cost is fair and reasonable and how money borrowed by the Economic Development Authority to fund the renovations would be repaid.

“Is this cost necessary and is it cost effective … we don’t know any of those answers,” said Lesniak, D-Union. “The legislature doesn’t know and the public doesn’t know, and that’s a prescription for bad government.”

Lesniak said a constitutional amendment approved in 2008 limits the state from taking on new debt without voter approval.

“That seems to be ignored here. There are exceptions obviously where bonding has to be done, and there’s a dedicated revenue source for that,” he said Friday. “That I know is not the case here, and I believe this should go to the voters for a vote.”

Lesniak, who chairs the Economic Growth Committee, called on Senate President Steve Sweeney to let the committee schedule a hearing on the renovations. There’s no indication if that will happen.

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