Another article by Katie G. Nelson was published today in the Herald Review. Congratulations to both her and the paper for cutting to what appears to be the heart of the matter again. Please go to their site and read the article here.
Apparently a rift has developed in the DFL in St. Paul. As a result of the current budget surplus, the House, including many House DFLers, has passed a $500 million tax cut bill, which is strongly supported by DFL Governor Mark Dayton. This bill has been held up in the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL from Cook, even though today, the 19th of March, was the deadline set by the Governor for the bill to be sent to his desk.
Governor Dayton has indicated his belief that this bill was being delayed intentionally in an attempt by Sen. Bakk to obtain funding for a new Senate office building and a parking ramp, which would cost $90 million. For his part, Sen. Bakk denied this, although he is on record as strongly supporting the new building.
The Capitol building is undergoing renovations, which will require the Senators to find an alternate location during the process. Currently, there is not enough room for the entire Senate to have offices in the Capitol building itself, and that is part of what is presented as a reason for the new building.
I may be a little behind the times, but I was always under the impression that the Capitol building’s primary purpose was to house the Legislature, both the House and the Senate, in their entirety. As we are planning to spend $272 million dollars for this renovation, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that this purpose be fulfilled as a priority.
Nevertheless, some members of the Senate are of the opinion that we need to spend another $90 million for yet another building so that they can have their very own domicile.
I see a clear choice here, and an opportunity for us, as taxpayers, to save ourselves millions of dollars. Either we can tell the Senate that they must return to the Capitol building after the renovations, along with the House of Representatives, scrapping their plans for a new office building, or we can let the House have a new building as well, forget about the renovations, and permanently retire the Capitol building. One way or the other, but not both. It is our money that they are freely spending.
I do not seriously think that any of us want to see the Capitol building go away, so it seems that the House and the Senate should resign themselves to finding a way to utilize our Capitol building for its intended purpose.
It may well inconvenience the Senators during the renovation, but it is temporary. Where is the fiscal responsibility in using this as an excuse to spend $90 million of our money on new offices? Are they public servants, there to represent us, or are they kings with royal courts deserving of a new palace at our expense?