Gov. Jerry Brown wants to hold off on a down payment toward the $1.3 billion Sacramento office overhaul he proposed last year.
But a group of three projects, including construction of a new headquarters for the Department of Natural Resources downtown, is still moving forward. Building construction may even begin on time in late 2018. An account set up to pay for them wouldn’t get the scheduled $300 million boost this year under the governor’s plan. Instead, Brown wants to hold on to that money to help make up for what he believes will be a $2 billion shortfall in his $177.1 billion spending plan.
Last year, the Legislature put $1 billion into a special account for the projects. Using that money, the Department of General Services is carrying out environmental planning for the new structures.
“None of these projects have even gone out to bid,” said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the department. “Overall, we believe the decision not to transfer $300 million in the 2017-18 budget for downtown office building projects is prudent given the fiscal uncertainty facing the state.”
The three projects in line to benefit first from the office construction fund are a proposed 650,000-square-foot building that would house the Natural Resources Agency departments and current tenants of the Bonderson building on P Street; a new headquarters for the Department of Health and Human Services that would be constructed on the site of a vacant state building on O Street; and a renovation of the Capitol Annex.
Brown last year put forward a larger Sacramento office renovation plan that would improve 11 buildings at a projected cost of about $3 billion. The Legislative Analyst’s Office last month issued a report calling for more scrutiny of the plan, noting that its ambitious scale may prove costly over time.
The priorities were based on a 2015 study that rated the condition of 29 state office buildings. The Resources Building at 1416 Ninth Street was rated the worst, with about $149 million in needed repairs.