Texas lawmaker defends $140K lounge renovation - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Texas lawmaker defends $140K lounge renovation

Austin_A state lawmaker responsible for overseeing renovations to the members-only lounge in the Texas House of Representatives said Monday that $140,000 in improvements were needed to spruce up the dingy, run-down room.

"We had plumbing problems here; the place was dirty. We had members who didn't come in here," said Rep. Tony Goolsby, R-Dallas, defending the expenditure. The renovation has been criticized as excessive spending at a time when Gov. Rick Perry has ordered state agencies to "dial back their spending."

The lounge improvements include custom wood cabinets and granite countertops that cost $61,200, an air-cooled flake ice maker that cost $3,425 and two antique chandeliers that were $14,500 apiece. The lounge also boasts new red carpet, big-screen TVs and new kitchen appliances.

Goolsby, chairman of the House Administration committee, said the renovations were planned long before the economic downturn.

"This started a year before the economy was what it is today, before the governor's appeal," Goolsby said.

House officials have said they needed to upgrade the lounge to keep it on par with the Senate cloak room.

Goolsby acknowledged that he was too involved in his re-election campaign to closely monitor all the renovation work. He was defeated in November.

"We used some consultants, and we talked to staff and we talked to members," he said. "We have a place that we're all proud of."

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