Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidates came to St. Paul on Thursday to bash what has been a popular target for Republicans – the new $90 million Senate office building and parking lot.
One by one, they came to the podium to bash the project, which DFLers folded into the tax measure that passed at end of session last year.
Marty Seifert of Marshall called the building “opulent and unnecessary.” Rep. Kurt Zellers, of Maple Grove, said the building is poorly conceived as potholes go unfilled and many Minnesotans are out of work. Orono businessman Scott Honour said if he is elected, he will sublet the building to commercial tenants and use the revenue to pay for it.
The building has drawn a lot of furor around the Capitol and in the community.
Supporters want to get the building approved quickly so it can be built and utilized while the Capitol is undergoing a massive, multimillion-dollar renovation. The proposed building will house many state Senators and potentially free up space in the Capitol and a neighboring building.
The only thing standing in the way of the new building is a powerful House committee – which is looking for cheaper alternatives.
Dayton has been a vocal critic of the building’s price tag, saying it was too extravagant and out of synch with Minnesotans’ values. He favors some type of Senate building, but one that fits in better with the more utilitarian government office buildings around the Capitol.
This is the first time all five GOP gubernatorial candidates appeared together at a news conference. Republicans say they believe the public outrage over the new building will help them win in November.
Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said the building arrangement is just fine. He said legislators are only in St. Paul for a few months out of the year and don’t need an entire new building for their offices.
“Priorities, folks,” he said. “We don't need this.”
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson said is not convinced Senators need a new building.
“I have yet to see the case that the new building is needed,” he said.