By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott is criticizing the Legislature for passing a budget adjustment bill earlier this week that allocates $1.5 million of federal money to (he said at his press conference Tuesday) “redesign the State House cafeteria.”
H679, the 2022 Budget Adjustment Act, allocates $1.5 million “for the State House expansion planning design.” According to House Institutions committee members, that plan would spend Covid-related federal funds to add legislative meeting space to the State House.
The need for more space became especially apparent when Covid restrictions required social distancing. The study committee determined that building up, not out, is the only viable option.
As conceived by a summer study committee, the redesign would add six committee rooms in the current cafeteria space and build a new cafeteria on a second, yet-to-be-constructed floor. It would be paid for mostly by federal Covid recovery funds. The redesign would be carried out by a retired state architect, a summer study committee member said today.
“That million and a half dollars just to design a new cafeteria is going to lead to about 25 or 30 million dollars of ARPA money or some money spent on something that I think could be utilized in other areas,” Scott said.
“Do you mean the proposal to potentially build another floor on top of the cafeteria?” a reporter asked. “They’re talking about using the existing eating area for more committee rooms, so they’re actually building a new cafeteria,” Scott explained.
The annual budget adjustment bill tweaks the previous year’s budget, depending on funding resources. Last year saw an influx of federal spending, so budget adjustment has been focused on how best to spend that new revenue.
Categories: State Government