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Poll: Can We Really Afford to Pay $300M — And Counting — to Repair State House?

Governor says New Jersey’s signature building is in dangerous disrepair, but eyebrows are being raised at the projected cost of renovation and the way it's to be financed

The New Jersey State House in Trenton dates back to the 1700s, and some sections of the building haven’t been renovated since the 1950s. Gov. Chris Christie and members of his administration have been warning since late last year that conditions in the building have deteriorated so much that they pose a risk to the safety of state employees and visitors. To remedy the danger and dilapidation, Christie has proposed spending $300 million on a major renovation project. And he wants to borrow the money through the state Economic Development Authority, meaning the project won’t require authorization from lawmakers or approval from New Jersey voters.

What do you think?

  • This was a misguided proposal from the start and Christie needs to pull the plug on it — immediately. He wants to spend $300 million to fix up the State House when his administration has been unable to fully fund the state’s school-aid law or make the full payments to the public-employee pension system? There are far better ways to spend this money, like renovating inner-city schools or investing more in mass-transit.

  • Christie should do the right thing and let the voters decide whether this is a good project. The state isn’t even supposed to be able to issue debt without voter approval under a 2008 constitutional amendment. He’s skirting that restriction by using a technicality. If the governor thinks the project is absolutely necessary, he should make the case to voters.

  • Christie is showing true leadership by launching the renovation before he leaves office. The State House is the symbol of state government and one of New Jersey’s historic sites, and it needs to be kept up even if the cost is $300 million. While it may seem odd to not seek approval from the Legislature or voters for the new borrowing, this project is too important to get bogged down by election-year politics.

  • Renovating the State House may be overdue, but I have a problem with borrowing the $300 million, plus the interest, which could end up doubling the cost of the project in the long run. New Jersey already is deep enough in debt. In a state budget totaling $35 billion, there has to be enough money available to fund the renovation with cash if it’s such a pressing project.

  • We need a compromise to allow funding of necessary repairs while also keeping an eye on the state’s bottom line. The project should be scaled way back for now, and only the most important repairs should be funded until the state budget is back in good shape.

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