SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13/AP) – Lawmakers on Thursday approved spending $755 million to renovate their own office building as part of the state budget.
The plan appropriates the money to rebuild the statehouse annex, the building attached to the Capitol that houses most legislative offices.
The annex is more than 60 years old and doesn’t meet fire and safety standards, which endangers many schoolchildren who visit the building every year, Republican Sen. Jean Fuller of Bakersfield said.
“We know this is one of the most visited places in the state of California. We see school trips. We see people coming up here for lobby day,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento Democrat. “What they don’t know is this building is a death trap.”
CBS13 toured the annex in February and got an up-close look at some of the problems. A piece of cardboard covering a hole in the wall, and paper exit signs, may be the most visible, but perhaps, the least concerning flaws.
People with disabilities have an even harder time navigating through awkward winding corridors.
Assemblyman Ken Cooley showed us makeshift drains and puddles, revealing an aging annex building that can no longer handle the fast pace of modern California politics.
As recently as two years ago, the lieutenant governor’s offices here were flooded when water pipes burst through the walls.
What those pipes don’t do is put out fires, except for a few fire hoses. The building has no fire sprinklers.
But critics said lawmakers could spend the money on other things.
“It sends the wrong message,” Assemblyman Dante Acosta said. “We shouldn’t be spending it on ourselves and new swanky offices.”
The Santa Clarita Republican said foster children and people with developmental disabilities have a greater need for funds.
Although the building is old, other critical buildings in the state are even older, including some hospitals, Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda said before voting against the appropriation.
The new annex is slated to include a visitor center and a parking garage.
The budget also provides $420 million to build another state building near the Capitol that would temporarily house lawmakers’ offices while the annex is under construction. That building would later be used for other government purposes.
Legislation outlining the reconstruction plan passed the Senate 28-9 and the Assembly 54-21. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign it.
Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper contributed reporting.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.