SAINT PAUL, MN – Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) and other House Republicans sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Erin Campbell today urging them to halt the remodel and expansion of the State Office Building. The current cost of the project is expected to be $500 million.
“It is unconscionable that we would spend $500 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to remodel the House office building,” said Robbins. “We are only in session five months out of the year – the rest of the year the professional staff works remotely the majority of the time. The building does need upgrades to the HVAC system and to improve technology so constituents can participate in hearings remotely, but those changes shouldn’t cost taxpayers a half a billion dollars. The entire new Senate Office Building cost $90 million in 2017 – we can’t possibly need to spend more than five times that amount to remodel.”
According to non-partisan staff, the bonds to finance the $500 million renovation will be sold this month and construction contracts will be signed soon thereafter.
“The Majority has been quietly pushing this project through since last session, with little public scrutiny, despite our amendments to limit it. When I found out the bonds were being sold this month, I decided to make one last effort to stop this waste of taxpayers’ money,” noted Robbins. “I’m hoping the public will engage in this effort and call on Governor Walz to stop the sale of the bonds. We don’t want to get in another situation like we currently have with Southwest Light Rail or the remodel of the Governor’s mansion, when they claim we have already sold the bond, signed contracts and spent so much money that we can’t possibly change course. Taxpayers are tired of being told they are locked into giant projects they don’t want.”
“This projects adds insult to injury for Minnesota taxpayers after Democrats spent the entire $17.5 billion surplus, raised taxes by nearly $10 billion, and grew the state budget by 38% over two years,” said Robbins. “Politicians do not need a new, half a billion-dollar office building when families are facing higher prices for gas, groceries, and energy bills. I am urging the Governor and MMB Commissioner to halt this project until open hearings can be held to discuss more cost-effective solutions for needed updates to the State Office Building.”
You can read the full letter to the Governor and MMB Commissioner here.