Senate doesn’t need $67 million palace

Late in the final hours of the last Minnesota legislative session, a measure was shoehorned into the tax bill to build a new office building for the state Senate, along with a parking ramp. The office building that is envisioned will cost the state $67 million, with $23 million more for the parking ramp.

The building is a glass-fronted, palatial structure facing the capitol. It will house state senators and their staff during and after the State Capitol renovations.

This is a measure that was passed with little discussion. State Rep. Jim Knoblach as filed a lawsuit to block it, claiming it violated the state’s single-issue rule for legislation by sticking a building project into the state tax bill.

The Senate Rules Committee approved the preliminary plan for the project Wednesday on a straight party vote, with DFLers in support.

If the state really needs this monument to bureaucracy, the legislature should have allowed the project to stand as a separate piece of legislation and rise or fall on its own merits, instead of sneaking in under the tax bill’s coat.

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