Lawmakers are once again tussling over the new Senate office building


All the concrete has been poured, and structural steel has been erected – but the new taxpayer-funded Senate office building is still a messy sticking point between lawmakers.

Mortenson Construction gave some local media organizations a tour of the in-progress facility Tuesday, a $90 million office-plus-parking-ramp project that lasted through a handful of legal of political challenges before winning final approval last year.

It's halfway done at this point, the Pioneer Press reports, and the tab is looking as expected, with costs described as on target.

But even now, the dollars involved with building and maintaining the structure continue to create political tussles.

Both Democrats and Republicans are prepping funding bills right now. MPR says the Senate DFL's proposal includes $12.9 million in taxpayer dollars over the next two years to help pay off money borrowed for the project, and $16.4 million in the years following. Maintenance and upkeep costs will run $2 million a year.

That's not sitting well with Republican opponents to the building.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, sponsor of the House's budget bill, said she "completely disagree[s] that the citizens of Minnesota expect us to be spending their tax dollars on an office building for politicians," the Star Tribune reports.

The budget bill has no money for the new Senate office building.

The proposal for a new Senate office building has been divisive since its inception – a proposal shoved into an end-of-session tax bill in 2013 and, in general, opposed by Republicans.

The final budget will have to be passed by the DFL-controlled Senate, the Republican-controlled House – and also signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Where the final numbers land will be determined through negotiations over the remaining few weeks of the legislative session.

Why is a new building being discussed in the first place? The 109-year-old Capitol Building will be undergoing a major restoration that will force senators to vacate their offices there.

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