Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category
Tim Pugmire’s article on the Senate Office Building highlights the DFL’s misplaced priorities and the DFL’s campaign year spin:
A recent KSTP poll found the public disapproval of the building at 68 percent. The four Republicans trying to unseat Dayton are making it a campaign issue, and so are their allies. The group Americans for Prosperity highlighted the issue in a new radio ad slamming Dayton.
“Let’s not forget that he spent $90 million for a brand new office building for state Senators…and new offices for himself too,” an announcer says in the ad. “So, Mark Dayton is building places for politicians while we struggle to make ends meet.”
Here’s House Majority Leader Erin Murphy’s spin on the DFL’s disaster:
“It’s not coming up for Minnesotans. It’s not coming up as I’m talking to our members, and they’re out door knocking already,” said Murphy, DFL-St. Paul. “So, I understand that the Republicans think it’s an issue that they can use to drive division, and they will spend their time talking about that. “We’re going to spend our time talking about the future of Minnesota.”
That’s what’s known as whistling past the graveyard. Rep. Murphy wishes this wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately for her and the DFL, wishing won’t make it so. It’s an issue because it’s another instance where the legislature ignored the will of the people.
The DFL can spin this all it wants. The numbers tell the tale. People understand that it’s wrong to spend $90,000,000 on a building that’ll be used 3-5 months a year.
This issue ties into another issue that’ll hurt the DFL, which is that they increased spending by $6,000,000,000 this biennium over the 2012-13 biennium. It’s right for Minnesotans to ask what they got for that spending. The answer is simple.
They didn’t get much. There’s still a mega-sized achievement gap in K-12 education. Incompetence is the rule, not the exception, in the MnSCU system. Iconic companies are leaving Minnesota. MNsure is still a mess. MNsure didn’t work when it launched. What’s worse is that it won’t be fixed this fall, either.
In short, the DFL spent money foolishly and in record amounts. What’s worse is that the DFL specialized in growing incompetence, not prosperity. As a result, Minnesotans paid higher taxes without getting a benefit.
As such, the Senate Office Building is the perfect symbol of what happens when the DFL controls the levers of the state government.
Contrary to what this SC Times editorial says, St. Cloud legislators should vote against the DFL’s pork-filled bonding bill. When you factor this information into the equation, it’s the right thing to do:
Not quite so clear-cut are a mix of additional projects statewide proposed to be paid for with cash lawmakers want to pull from the state’s projected budget surplus.
Unlike the bonding bill, any negotiated bonding deal using this money requires majority votes only, meaning the DFL controls the outcome.
Dayton’s surplus-funded list totals about $126 million. The Senate plan pushes $200 million. And the House plan sits at $125 million, although House DFL leaders have talked of increasing that amount.
If the DFL insists on spending $200,000,000 of one-time surplus money in addition to the $850,000,000 bonding bill, then Republicans should vote no without hesitating. If the DFL wants to be that fiscally reckless, let them explain their actions. Republicans shouldn’t provide political cover for DFL legislators.
The Senate plan provides $11 million for a parking ramp near the center. Plans released earlier from the House and Gov. Mark Dayton both provided $11.56 million, which equates to full funding for the ramp. Obviously, full funding is preferred. Regardless, inclusion in all three plans is the best sign yet that the state will finally contribute to this vital regional project.
There’s no question that the St. Cloud business community and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis want this project. Similarly, there’s no question whether the DFL’s additional nonbonding spending is a deal breaker, especially in light of the fact that none of the bonding bills includes much money for filling Minnesota’s potholes or fixing Minnesota’s bridges.
A bonding bill that prioritized fixing Minnesota’s potholes and bridges would be a worthwhile investment. It’s impossible to sell Minnesotans that a bill that’s mostly about funding convention centers and renovating the Ordway isn’t a Minnesota priority.
That’s why voting no on the current proposal is imperative.
Technorati: Bonding Bill, Roads and Bridges, Infrastructure, John Pederson, Tama Theis, Jeff Howe, Dave Kleis, Fiscal Restraint, Mark Dayton, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Zach Dorholt, Rivers Edge Convention Center, Pork, DFL
If people are interested in facts, this article should suffice in putting to rest the notion of expanding the Northstar Rail:
Last month, in an effort to tamp down customers’ anger, Metro Transit launched its new alert service that allows passengers to get notices by e-mail or text message. Callie Bird is one of 975 people who have signed up for the free service, a small number of users on a line that averages 2,783 boardings each weekday.
I’d love hearing a transportation lobbyist explain how spending millions of dollars on something that’s used by 2,800 people per week is spending money wisely. Simply put, there’s no justification for expanding it.
What’s worse is that it isn’t running on time lately. That’s why they’ve created this “alert service.”
Riders have had lots to say about the frequent delays that have occurred on the Northstar Commuter line over the past two months. Their latest beef is about the agency’s electronic alerts, which they say are as unreliable as the trains.
Imagine that. The government takes tens of millions of dollars to build a train that only activists want. Then they build the train that nobody except activists want. Then the people who didn’t want the train in the first place don’t use the train they didn’t want.
That’s terrible. Unfortunately, that’s just part of this story of ineptitude. Now the train nobody except activists wanted isn’t running on time with any regularity.
How much ineptitude do people have to experience before people tell the politicians to stop spending their money on things we don’t need or want? Apparently, it’s too much to ask the government to be competent with the things it runs:
“After standing at a train station for 10 to 15 minutes, alerts may arrive. They may arrive 20 to 30 minutes into the ‘situation,’ or they do not alert at all,” she said. “I like that Metro has the text alert system and I am receiving such messages. However, the alerts are usually so much after the fact that I find myself shaking my head and feeling somewhat embarrassed for Metro Transit’s late alerts.”
At this rate, Northstar’s reputation will soon be in the same range as the IRS or NSA.
Hopefully, Minnesotans will step forward and tell the activists and politicians that Northstar isn’t transportation, that only roads and bridges and urban transit systems constitute transportation systems. Northstar and other similar projects are just politicians’ boondoggles aimed at securing campaign contributions from lobbyists.
If this article is right, then we’re seeing the first signs that opposition to the Senate Office Building is mounting:
Lawmakers in Minnesota had hoped to break ground in March on a $63 million new state Senate office building next to the state Capitol in St. Paul.
But a fight has broken out over the project, which critics have called an unnecessary expense in a city with high office vacancy.
The project has been delayed amid the debate, and now could face further delays because a committee of the state House of Representatives intends to hold a hearing in coming weeks rather than vote immediately on the project.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said in an interview that she felt some of the concerns raised by critics were legitimate. “Before we’re going to take that vote, I want to make sure that we’ve had ample time to consider the options before us,” she said. Those options include using existing government space to house Senate workers, she said. “I think that it is important to get this right, versus get it fast.”
Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Sen. Bakk shrouded this project in secrecy because he knew that publicity would kill the plan. In that post, I highlighted the fact that Sen. Bakk didn’t write a standalone bill for this project.
That’s exceptionally odd for this big of a project, especially in light of the fact that legislators routinely write bills for tiny projects to be included in the Bonding Bill.
Sen. Bakk didn’t write a bill for this project, opting instead to introduce this project as an amendment to last year’s Tax Bill. Testimony wasn’t taken for or against Sen. Bakk’s ‘amendment’, probably because Sen. Bakk didn’t want the publicity.
Opposition to this project must be building. If it wasn’t, Erin Murphy wouldn’t be exercising this tiny amount of fiscal restraint. Rep. Murphy is lots of things but the taxpayers’ watchdog isn’t one of those things.
This feels like a sinking ship. Holding a hearing on the project will bring out tons of angry taxpayers protesting this project. I’m betting there won’t be many people testifying that the project should proceed. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that Sen. Bakk won’t testify that this project is needed.
Like the Tax Bill this project was contained in, this project is a portrait of the Democrats’ lack of fiscal restraint. Now that it’s exposed, they’ll try telling us that they had to vote for the Tax Bill. The Tax Bill itself is part of the Democrats’ attack on taxpayers.
This weekend, Javier Morillo-Alicea tried spinning the repeal of the B2B sales tax increases as proof of the DFL’s plan for tax relief. That’s chutzpah personified. They raised those taxes last May. If people hadn’t expressed their disgust with those tax increases, they’d still be in the bill.
Thanks to that opposition, they’re likely to repeal those sales taxes. Thanks to this uprising, they’re likely to defund the SOB (Senate Office Building).
The thing to remember is that the Democrats’ first instinct was to a) raise taxes on the middle class and b) spend money on a lavish, ill-advised palace for themselves. They voted for the Tax Bill. They voted against stripping out the Senate project. Democrat legislators can’t credibly say that they oppose it. They cast their votes. They expressed their priorities.
They’re opposing this project because they’d get clobbered this November if they didn’t.
Keep the pressure on. Don’t relent. Plan on attending this hearing. Plan on testifying against this project. Let’s sink this project once and for all.
If anything is gaining traction as a totally unexpected issue, it’s the DFL’s palace, aka the Senate Office Building. In January, Joe Soucheray wrote this blistering piece about the SOB foolishness. He wasn’t finished. He’s written this article to blast the foolishness again.
The duplicitous DFLers in the state Senate are moving the marble around under the thimbles. Again. Watch it. Keep your eyes sharp.
As near as I can understand it, they are now informing us that a new Senate office building they want to build for themselves has always been a part of the plan to renovate the Capitol building.
We didn’t know that. Most of us are on board to renovate the Capitol, but we didn’t sign on to build a new office building for 44 of the 67 senators as part of the project. No, they tossed that new building into a tax bill in the closing minutes of the last legislative session and are now trying to sell us on the idea of how desperately they need the new space and that was the plan all along.
Let’s cut through the DFL’s spin. It’s entirely possible that Democrats, starting with Sen. Bakk, always planned on building this monument. Before you get upset with me, take time to think of it from an Obamacare perspective. After President Obama said that people could keep their health plan if they liked it, they followed that up by saying it was never their intent to let people keep their “substandard health insurance plan.” There’s no disputing that.
Pay attention to this thinking. President Obama and DC Democrats always planned on quietly pushing people out of the health insurance plans that they liked. Likewise, it’s totally plausible that Sen. Bakk and the Democrats supported this ill-advised project if it was done quietly.
If you need to seriously remodel your house to the point where you have to move out, it is unlikely that you are going to build a new house for yourself in the interim. No, you would rent a house.
The senators can rent office space in St. Paul. They don’t need an opulent $63 million building with a $27 million parking ramp on the side. That parking ramp is a beautiful window into the minds of the people who brought you light rail. In fact, light rail will swing right by the Capitol. So they should put their mouths where your money is, rent some of the extraordinarily available office space in St. Paul, hop on the train and get dropped off at the Capitol for votes and meetings and whatnot. Why would they need a parking ramp? They don’t even like cars.
Let’s get to the heart of this. Had the Capitol press paid attention and if they were in touch with Main Street Minnesota, they would’ve highlighted this foolish spending. Rather than actually reading bills and asking questions about whether the bills working their way through the legislature, the Capitol press spends most of its time tracking down quotes from legislators.
That isn’t journalism. That’s stenography. If newspapers want to increase readership, they should require their reporters to read the bills that are getting passed.
Part of the problem, unfortunately, is because people don’t care until after the outrage has happened. If people don’t want money to be spent foolishly, the citizenry should be eternally vigilant. Then, if politicians spend money this foolishly, the citizens should boot their arses out.
Finally, let’s have a straightfoward discussion about what Sen. Bakk perpetrated. Sen. Bakk didn’t want anyone to testify about his ill-advised initiative. That’s why he slid the proposal into the Tax Bill as an amendment in the final weeks of the session. If you look, Sen. Bakk didn’t author legislation proposing construction of the Senate Office Building.
It’s time for Minnesotans to step forward and speak with a loud, passionate and unified voice that any politician that isn’t willing to stop this project dead in its tracks will be targeted and defeated this November. Legislators who aren’t the taxpayers’ watchdog are utterly worthless. They should be fired this November.
That’s the only remedy for this disease. When people get re-elected after spending money foolishly, citizens are sending the signal that they’re ok with foolish spending. I’m not ok with this foolish spending.
Defunding this project is imperative to good governance and protecting the taxpayers’ pocketbooks. The House Rules Committee can stop this ill-advised project with a simple vote. Here’s the committee website. All of the GOP legislators will vote against the project so it’s imperative to call or email the DFL committee members and politely but firmly tell them that a vote to approve this project is a vote that will be remembered this November.
Technorati: Tom Bakk, Plutocrats, Senate Office Building, House Rules Committee, Committee Hearing, Legislative Amendment, Secrecy, Pork, DFL, Accountability, Transparency, Taxpayer Revolt, MNGOP, Election 2014
This SCTimes Our View editorial highlights something obvious: that the “legislature didn’t consider [the] taxpayers’ interests:
The Legislature’s $90 million plan to build a Senate office building is as wasteful as it is self-serving.
Lawmakers signed off last session on a multimillion-dollar plan to construct a new Senate office building and parking structure across the street from the Capitol.
The office building is as pure of pork as you’ll ever find. It wouldn’t house the entire Senate. It would only house 44 of Minnesota’s 67 state senators. I agree with this part of the editorial, too:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has said the new building is needed to ensure the Senate has enough office space the next three years during the Capitol renovation.
But a $90 million office building and parking ramp paid for by taxpayers is excessive, especially if some senators will not continue to have offices there once Capitol renovations are complete.
Lawmakers should have considered housing senators’ offices in rentable commercial properties near the Capitol. Surely that would have been a more affordable plan than building new offices, which also will take time to construct.
Sen. Bakk should be run out of St. Paul for shoving this project down our throats. It’s excessive. It shouldn’t have gotten a committee hearing. It certainly shouldn’t have gotten through a committee. The DFL legislators who voted for the Tax Bill had the opportunity to strip this provision from the bill. They voted against stripping the provision from the bill.
That means they’re just as guilty of pouring on the pork as Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton are. Gov. Dayton could’ve line-item vetoed out the appropriation of money for this project. That’s certainly within a governor’s rights under Minnesota’s constitution. They can’t line-item out policies but they can line-item out appropriations.
The House Rules Committee should reject the proposal. If they did that, they’d stop the project dead in its tracks, which is what it deserves. We know that ground hasn’t been broken yet. That means construction hasn’t started. While there’d be some hard feelings in the Senate if the House rejected the project, it’d be worth it because it would halt the project.
I didn’t know about Joe Soucheray’s column from the Jan. 11, 2014 edition of the Pioneer Press. It’s a fascinating read. Here’s part of Mr. Soucheray’s column:
Not only is a new state Senate office building unnecessary, but the effort to bring it about was, essentially, crooked. In the final minutes of the last legislative session, the lodge tucked into a massive tax bill language that authorized a new edifice for themselves. They might as well have been throwing candy from a parade float.
They didn’t even know what it would cost, and they apparently didn’t care. They didn’t even seem to care that their action might very well have been unconstitutional. Former state Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, filed a lawsuit in October. We should be cheering for this guy. He contends in the suit that authorizing the project in a tax bill, instead of the usual bonding bill, violates a state constitutional requirement that a law embrace only one subject. A hearing is scheduled this month in Ramsey County District Court.
Mr. Soucheray is right. Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk, Speaker Thissen and the DFL didn’t care how much this building cost. They didn’t care that the building wasn’t needed or that there were cheaper ‘solutions’ to this non-problem. The Minnesota Senate needed that building like this ship needed more ice near Antarctica:
The Minnesota Senate needed that office building like Olympic athletes need this type of drinking water:
Let’s get serious about this. If we do, then we’ll be more considerate of the taxpayers’ plight than the DFL was. The DFL Tax Bill is a disaster. First, it raised taxes on the middle class and on small retailers. Next, it’s spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need, aka the Senate Office Building. Third, the DFL is already admitting that they raised taxes too much because they’re already preparing to repeal some of the taxes they created less than a year ago.
All of these things are major mistakes. Building the SOB is the biggest of those mistakes because, potentially, it’ll exist a generation or more. Hopefully, the middle class tax hikes will be repealed. (The sooner the better, right?) Repealing the B2B sales taxes will happen this session.
Unfortunately, if it’s approved by the DFL House Rules Committee, the SOB will be with us for a generation or more.
The biggest question Minnesotans need to ask themselves is whether they want inconsiderate, thoughtless people running state government. The DFL did what conservatives predicted they’d do. They raised taxes on the middle class and working poor. They foolishly spent money on things like the Senate Office Building. They built a collosal monument to their warped ideology when they passed MNsure.
I’d argue that the DFL is the ‘gang that couldn’t shoot straight’ if I thought that were true. Unfortunately, this DFL governor and this DFL legislature has aimed their taxing and spending guns at every Minnesotan. Every Minnesota taxpayer will pay for this monstrosity.
Mostly, the SOB is a testimony to the DFL’s appetite for spending money foolishly. That alone should get them fired this November.
Last night, I heard that the judge dismissed Jim Knoblach’s lawsuit. The twisted logic behind the judge’s ruling has essentially given future legislatures a gigantic loophole that essentially nullifies the Single Subject Clause of Minnesota’s Constitution. Jim Knoblach’s argument, the DFL’s counnterargument and the judge’s ruling are found in this document:
Here’s where the judge created a gigantic loophole:
The crux of the plaintiff’s argument is that, based on legislative custom and history, the passage of Section 21 was a significant deviation from traditional practice — by its inclusion in a tax bill and consideration before a tax committee — and was the product of impermissable logrolling that violates the Single Subject and Title Clause. Where the court has found that legislation is germane to a single subject, however, allegations of legislative improprieties cease to be a proper subject of judicial review. Certainly Plaintiff has highlighted significant oddities about this legislation and its passage, but such factors only become relevant if the legislation has failed the mere filament test.
What this judge just did was rule that the DFL could’ve put other capital projects into last year’s Tax Bill:
But Judge Lezlie Marek rejected that argument, writing in her order of dismissal that the legislation did not violate the single subject requirement. The $2 billion tax bill was a sprawling piece of legislation, but Marek ruled that the office building provision is linked to the rest by a common thread of “financing and raising revenue to fund state and local government operations.”
In other words, it’s a single subject because the tax bill finances government operations. That’s absurd illogic. The Senate Office Building project isn’t part of government operations. It can’t be part of government operations until it’s actually built, if then.
By this judge’s ruling, anything can be justified if it’s ruled to be part of state or local government operations and it’s included in the tax bill. That’s a gigantic loophole for the DFL to exploit.
The lesson taxpayers should take away from this is that the DFL won’t hesitate in spending hard-working families’ money on things that aren’t needed. Last spring, the DFL voted to spend $63,000,000 on an impractical building. Here’s what we’re getting forced down our throats:
Under the approved design, 44 senators from both parties and their staffs would relocate to the new building, and 23 others — the DFL and GOP leaders and committee chairs — would keep offices in the Capitol.
The “heart” of the new building would be the main floor with large, open public gathering spaces that look out on the Capitol through a “sweeping curve” of a glass and stone wall, said Jon Pickard, the principal designer with the Pickard Chilton architectural design firm. Large committee hearing rooms, which the Capitol lacks, also would be located on the main floor.
Senators and their staffs would have offices on the top two floors. A two-level, 265-stall parking garage would be built under the building.
The House Rules Committee hasn’t voted to approve this monstrosity. DFL legislators can stop the building of this disfunctional, ill-advised project by not approving this project. If they approve Sen. Bakk’s palace, they will have proven that they’re irresponsible stewards of the public’s money. Only a fool thinks that spending $63,000,000 on this ill-advised SOB (Senate Office Building) is a wise investment.
Anyone voting for the SOB isn’t a trustworthy watchdog of the taxpayers’ money.
Perhaps, I’m a bit sensitive about the Senate Office Building lawsuit because Jim Knoblach is a friend of mine. Still, it’s puzzling to me as to why conservative activists and organizations haven’t jumped on the Stop the SOB bandwagon.
Jim’s lawsuit has something in it for all different stripes of conservatives. For the liberty movement, Jim’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a Tax Bill that does more than address tax policy. In other words, the lawsuit accuses Sen. Tom Bakk of violating the Single-Subject Clause in Minnesota’s Constitution. (Building pork palaces for politicians doesn’t fit with setting tax rates and policies.)
For fiscal conservatives, Jim’s lawsuit highlights the DFL’s propensity for proposing pork projects. Simply put, the proposed Senate Office Building is pure pork. The notion that a new office building is needed is foolish. Taxpayers need to fund politicians’ palaces like Minnesota needs a $4/hr. increase in the minimum wage.
For political candidates, Jim’s lawsuit offers a great opportunity to highlight the fact that Democrats love pork projects, especially pork for pompous politicians. I’d be surprised if 80% of Minnesota’s taxpayers didn’t agree that politicians don’t need to spend $90,000,000 on a building that’s occupied 140 days during each biennium. Further, taxpayers don’t need a palace that includes “a reflecting pool, skylights and a fitness center.”
For GOP political strategists, it’s a fantastic opportunity to prove the DFL is the party of pompous politicians, not the party of the people. Think of the opportunity to paint Sen. Bakk and the DFL legislators who voted for the Tax Bill as pork-loving, tax-raising politicians who are out of touch with Main Street Minnesotans. Frankly, this is a gift that might keep giving, at least until judges rule that Sen. Bakk’s pork project is unconstitutional.
It’s a great opportunity for GOP legislators to push a defunding bill when the session re-opens in February, 2014. If Sen. Bakk bottles up the GOP repeal bill, they can use that against Democrats in their campaigns. If their legislation repeals funding for Sen. Bakk’s pork palace, it will be a stinging defeat for Sen. Bakk.
I understand why the GOP leadership in the Senate hasn’t expressed outrage thus far. Now that Gov. Dayton has criticized the bill he signed, he’s essentially given Senate GOP leadership ‘permission’ to criticize Sen. Bakk on this issue.
Finally, organizations like the Taxpayers League and Minnesota Majority should have a field day with this. It’s right in their wheel house. The great news is that there’s tons of potential political upside. The fantastic news is that there’s virtually no political downside to criticizing Sen. Bakk’s pork palace.
After all, how often do conservsatives get the opportunity to criticize a powerful Democrat for punishing taxpayers twice within a single bill? It’s important to remember that this year’s Tax Bill raised taxes on “the rich”, the middle class and working poor while spending money on palaces for politicians.
Technorati: Tom Bakk, Senate Office Building, Tax Increases, Mark Dayton, Pork Projects, Minimum Wage Increase, Tom Anzelc, Minnesota State Constitution, Single Subject Clause, DFL, Jim Knoblach, Stop the SOB, Taxpayers League, Minnesota Majority, MnGOP, Election 2014
This morning, former House Ways and Means Commmittee Chairman Jim Knoblach held a press conference to announce he was filing a lawsuit to stop construction of the new Senate Office Building. Here’s the explanation for Chairman Knoblach’s lawsuit:
Former State Representative Jim Knoblach (R–St. Cloud) is filing a lawsuit today to stop the new $90 million Senate Office Building, currently under design. The lawsuit claims the building’s authorization in the 2013 Omnibus Tax Bill violates Article IV, section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution.
“Spending $90 million on an office building to house a few dozen Senators and staff is an incredible waste,” said Knoblach. “We aren’t increasing the number of Senators. Temporary difficulties due to the Capitol renovation can be met by sharing hearing rooms at the State Office Building, and using other existing state buildings near the Capitol.”
Article IV, section 17 of the Minnesota Constitution reads: “Laws to embrace only one subject. No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”
Recent laws struck down under this single subject provision include:
1) a prevailing wage provision authored by then Rep. Tom Bakk in the 1997 Omnibus Tax Bill (Associated Builders and Contractors v. Ventura; Minnesota Supreme Court, 2000);
2) the Minnesota Personal Protection Act when first included in a DNR technical correction bill (Unity Church v. State of Minnesota; Minnesota Court of Appeals, 2005). The bill was struck down even though the Personal Protection Act was mentioned in the title.
“There is no legal justification for authorizing a new building in the tax bill,” said Erick Kaardal, the attorney representing Knoblach. “The subject of the tax bill is taxes, not building new buildings.”
This is a strong lawsuit. First, Chairman Knoblach has the clearly written text of the Minnesota Constitution on his side. Second, he’s got multiple precedents on his side, too.
When I spoke to him, Chairman Knoblach said that courts have given the legislature some latitude with the Single Subject Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, though he noted that the rulings cited above have sent the message to the legislature that there are limits to that latitude.
This information is damning towards Senate Majority Leader Bakk:
On April 24, 2013, H.F. 677, the Omnibus Tax Bill, was marked up in the Senate Taxes Committee. Senator Ann Rest offered an amendment to include language providing for the Senate Office Building, including $3 million for predesign and design, and language authorizing the state to sign a lease-purchase agreement to construct the building.
Senate Minority Tax Lead Julianne Ortman objected, stating “…this is a surprise…we haven’t had a hearing on this in this committee…this should be in the bonding bill…I will be voting no.” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk spoke in favor of the amendment, saying that “…bonding bills often times get caught up in end of session politics, and the Capitol renovations transcend politics and should be at a level above the political maneuvering that gets done at the end of session.” The amendment passed on a divided vote with several members voting no. (Source: Committee hearing video tape).
That’s quite interesting. Sen. Bakk admitted that the construction project was a bonding project. He’s right about that, which means the project requires 60% of senators to pass it, then 60% of House members to approve it.
That’s a delicate situation to finesse, especially right prior to an election. Spending $90,000,000 on a new office building to house politicians while the Capitol is refurbished doesn’t make for good politics in swing districts. Further complicating matters is the fact that this isn’t a tiny project. This would be one of the biggest bonding projects in recent history.
The other thing that’s worth mentioning is that Sen. Bakk put a prevailing wage provision “in the 1997 Omnibus Tax Bill” that was struck down. That begs the question why Sen. Bakk thinks the single-issue clause in the Minnesota Constitution is irrelevant.
The most likely answer is that Sen. Bakk will throw Minnesota’s Constitution out if that’s what’s needed to satisfy the DFL’s special interest allies.