Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford for the first time publicly responded to a $50 million state Capitol renovation that includes $669,608 copper-plated doors, which cost the same as much as a four-bedroom home in North Barrington.
“I think that type of expenditure by whoever and however they did that is inappropriate at this — perhaps at any time —
but particularly at this time,” Rutherford said at a news appearance on Thursday. “As the treasurer I just happen to hold the keys to that office at the present. They designed it. I will not move into it until it’s done.”
“My understanding,” Rutherford joked, “is those doors are not to the office of the state treasurer.”
Rutherford is a candidate in a four-way GOP gubernatorial primary.
He said he voted in favor of a bond authorization for needed updating in the state Capitol where both asbestos and mold had been found. However: “I did not support the $50 million appropriation,” he said.
The renovation of the building’s West Wing includes the Treasurer’s office, however, that was put in motion — including the bells and whistles — before Rutherford took office, he said.
The other perceived excesses as part of the renovation include 300-pound chandeliers.
We don’t know what those cost though — the architect has only released the cost of the doors.
The question over the cost of the doors appeared on the Sun-Times’ front page today.
The effort to make the Capitol’s west wing appear as it did in the late 1800s while also undertaking vital fire-safety, asbestos-abatement, heating and cooling, and disability upgrades has drawn heat because it comes at a time when the state is nearly $7 billion behind in paying its bills, owes more than $100 billion in pension liabilities and has faced a series of downgrades to its bond rating.
Rutherford’s comments came during a news conference concerning his Lt. Governor Steve Kim. Rutherford announced that if he is elected he would put him in charge of a new office called the Governor’s Office of Job Creation and Retention.
The office would take specific aim at the state’s unemployment rate as well as look for ways to expand business opportunities in Illinois. Rutherford said the new duties would not come along with an expanded budget.