Bonds to Finance $300 Million Statehouse Renovation Already Sold, Christie Administration Reveals

Insider NJ shows a live stream of the NJEDA tax incentive task force's third public hearing.

Sens. Lesniak, Doherty, and Bateman seethed in the aftermath of a courtroom revelation made by the Christie Administration that bonds to finance a $300 million Statehouse renovation were sold on May 11th, the same day the NJEDA approved the financing plan.

A candidate for governor in the Democratic Primary, Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) called it a calculated effort by Governor Chris Christie and the NJEDA to avoid public scrutiny, “This is a shameful act by both Governor Christie and the NJEDA Commissioners. Apparently they have no shame.”

“In an effort to avoid transparency and accountability, the governor must have set a new record for the speed with which bonds were sold after the NJEDA rubber stamped his expensive renovation plan,” said Senator Mike Doherty (R-23). “This is a clear sign that the Christie Administration didn’t want to give legislators or the public even a moment to review or challenge this expensive State House renovation.”

The defense team representing the Christie Administration revealed news of the bond sale during a scheduling meeting in New Jersey Superior Court with Judge Mary Jacobson to discuss the lawsuit filed this week by Lesniak, Doherty, and Bateman that seeks to halt the project.

“The revelations in court today demonstrate a clear effort by the Administration to stifle any opportunity to dissent the governor’s State House renovation plan that could cost taxpayers as much as $750 million,” said Senator Kip Bateman (R-16). “While the Administration’s defense suggests our lawsuit is moot since the bonds have already been sold, we’re going to continue our efforts on behalf of New Jersey taxpayers to fight this outrageous project.”

The State Treasurer testified in legislative hearings that debt service payments on the estimated $300 million in bonds needed to finance the project, which include interest, could end up costing taxpayers $500 million to $750 million.

The civil complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court by the legislators alleges that actions undertaken by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission, Treasury Department, and New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) related to the renovation plan violate the Debt Limitation, Appropriations and Separation of Powers clauses of the New Jersey Constitution.

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