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Minnesota Senate doesn't need $90 million palace

As printed in the Grand Forks Herald, Jan. 27, 2014
By Rep. Dan Fabian and Rep. Deb Kiel
ST. PAUL, Minn.— A $90 million Taj Mahal state Senate office building was sneaked into the tax bill during the dark, final hours of the most recent legislative session.
The measure did not get either a committee hearing or public input.
Now, Democrats are forcing hardworking taxpayers to foot the bill for their lavish, palatial complex with a three-story glass façade, reflecting pool, gymnasium and parking ramp.
That’s wrong.
The shadowy nature of this process is the perfect example of why people are angry with the way government goes about its business. This is not the way we do business in northwest Minnesota, and it certainly shouldn’t be the way we do business in St. Paul.
Unfortunately, this is the direct consequence of one-party control.
Democrats have total control of the state Legislature and governor’s office, leaving little room for debate or an appropriate measure of checks and balances. That’s how something like this — plus historic taxing and spending increases — can be imposed on the hardworking people of Minnesota.
Yes, there may be a perfectly legitimate reason for needing more Senate office space, but let’s have that discussion in the open with the public.
And let’s not forget to discuss needs versus wants while we’re at it.
Does the state really need a $90 million palace for only 44 state senators? Or is that a want? We side with the latter.
When St. Paul takes taxpayers’ hard-earned money, that’s a big deal. Those dollars should be spent wisely, not irresponsibly and wastefully, and the process should be open, transparent and responsible.
If Herald readers are as outraged as we are about the new Senate office building and the way it’s been brought forward, we need their help.
We urge readers to contact Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, and House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul.
The House Rules committee will be considering the final design of the building within the next few weeks. If there is a resounding message from the public of “No, we will not stand for this,” it is our hope we can generate enough support to halt the process.
Fabian, R-Roseau, represents District 01A and Kiel, R-Crookston, represents District 01B in the Minnesota House.
Dan Fabian is the state representative for Roseau, Kittson and Marshall counties, as well is the City of Thief River Falls. He encourages constituents to contact him with questions or opinions on any state legislative issue. Fabian may be reached at, 651.296.9635, or 307 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.
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