Senate Republicans on Monday criticized what they said was a reversal of plans to have user fees pay for an underground parking ramp at a new Senate office building, which some state senators and staff are expected to move into this weekend.
In a statement, Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, said state DFLers had previously promised that the underground garage would be paid for through user fees, reducing the total cost of the building to taxpayers.
Osmek pointed to a November memo by the Senate secretary sent to all staff and senators that said that "Senate funds will be used to defray the cost of parking in the Senate Office building garage for Senate staff."
Senate Republicans have decried the new building and have said they have no immediate plans to move into the building, which was used to attack DFLers during the 2014 election season.
In a statement, Senate DFL communications director Alyssa Siems Roberson disputed that additional Senate funds would help subsidize parking for staff members. The "parking ramp is still user-financed; however, the rate structure is available to all staff because of hiring freezes and cost-savings in the Senate budget — not through additional state funds," she said.
"Senate Republicans want to have things both ways. The rate structure is available to all Senate staff — including Republican staff," she added, saying that senators, staff members of both caucuses and nonpartisan staffers had all expressed concerns at the initial rates for parking.
The subsidized rates will not apply to senators, she said.