Lesniak Calls on Commission to Nix Christie’s State House Renovation

Progressive gubernatorial hopeful calls the plan too costly.

N.J. State Senator Ray Lesniak.
N.J. State Senator Ray Lesniak. Max Pizarro for Observer

One Democratic hopeful in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race is calling on the state’s State House Commission to reject Governor Chris Christie’s $300 million proposal to renovate the State House itself. State Senator Ray Lesniak urged the commission, whose approval Christie will need to execute the plan, to say no to what he described as a costly project whose scope could lead to the state taking on more debt than it can afford in an open letter.

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The New Jersey Economic Development Authority would have to issue the debt to finance the project, and can’t move forward without the commission’s approval. The State House Commission controls the sale and leasing of state-owned properties.

“I request that the State House Commission vote against Governor Christie’s State House renovation proposal and direct that a re-procurement of the statehouse renovation plan be issued to determine what repairs are necessary for safety and security,” Lesniak wrote. “I also request that the commission carefully re-examine the contract to determine why it went from $38 million to $300 million without a competitive bid.”

Lesniak previously urged the governor to move forward only with overdue safety repairs when the plan went to committee. The state has already awarded a $38 million contract to begin the repairs, which would force Christie’s successor into temporary offices after he is term-limited out in 2018.

Lesniak is competing against frontrunner Phil Murphy and Assemblyman John Wisniewski in the Democratic primary for governor. A recent Farleigh Dickinson poll found Murphy in the lead with 17 percent of respondents’ support, with Lesniak and Wisniewski trailing at 6 and 7 percent respectively.

Lesniak Calls on Commission to Nix Christie’s State House Renovation