House Democratic Leader Defends Capitol Project
Wyoming House Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne (D-Cheyenne) says she thinks some of the opposition to the $300 million Capitol Renovation Project is the result of lawmakers doing a poor job of explaining why it is needed.
She says she's not sure the public understands that the current capitol building is so cramped and outdated that it keeps state residents from playing an active role in legislative committee meetings. She says the committee meeting rooms are too small to accommodate full public attendance at committee meetings where a lot of legislative decisions are being made.
In regard to the project being too expensive at a time when the state is facing major budget challenges, Throne says at this point the state only needs to allocate about $107 million to finish the project entirely. She also says she personally won't support any proposal to go beyond the $300 price tag.
In answer to critics of work on the Herschler Building portion of the project, Throne says the fact is that work is badly needed and in many cases long overdue.
Speaking of the entire Capitol Renovation Project, Throne says if the work was stopped at this point it will end up costing the state more over the long run than finishing up the current plans.
She does say, however, that if the work wasn't already well underway she wouldn't support starting it until the state was in a better financial situation.
Critics of the project argue that a more basic approach of bringing the Capitol Building up to code and eliminating safety hazards could have been accomplished for far less money at a time when Wyoming is struggling financially because of low energy prices and the resulting decrease in state revenues.
Some opponents of the current project decry what they say is a "Taj Mahal" approach to renovation at a time when state agencies are facing budget cuts because of low revenues.