Crookston Republican says taxpayer dollars could be put to much better use

    State bonds were sold sale earlier this week for the construction of a new $90 million Senate office building in St. Paul, and District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel (R-Crookston) says she is concerned the project goes against northwestern Minnesota values, noting it as a prime example of government spending on “wants” instead of “needs” that comes at a high cost to taxpayers.    

    “The Senate office building, passed by one-party control, has received a great deal of criticism since it was sneaked into the final tax bill in 2013. It is expensive, unneeded, and the process lacked transparency and public input,” Kiel said. “The hardworking folks of northwest Minnesota have commonsense values, and they expect elected officials to invest in reasonable needs, not wants. Unfortunately, this is a case of lawmakers prioritizing themselves over the needs of the people they serve.”    

    All 201 part-time legislators are currently housed in the State Capitol and State Office Building. The new office building will have 67 offices for state senators, leaving empty space in the Capitol that is currently undergoing a restoration and renovation project. The repairs alone will total nearly $300 million taxpayer dollars, Kiel said.    

    “From what folks have told me time and again, $90 million is money we could have put toward essential needs, like roads that are used on a daily basis, as opposed to a building that is used at capacity for less than half of the year,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a result of one-party control. With no checks and balances in place, nothing could be done to stop it.”    

    Construction on the new Senate office building is expected to begin by the end of August.