Updated: 06/13/2014 4:36 PM
Created: 06/12/2014 5:51 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser
The last legal and political hurdles have been cleared so construction can begin on a new office building for the Minnesota Senate.
However, the building could be a significant issue for Governor Dayton and House Democrats as they run for re-election. According to our KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, 68 percent of Minnesotans disapprove of the building that will cost taxpayers $77 million. Just 18 percent approve and 14 percent are "not sure."
"They don't really surprise us," Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann said of the poll numbers."None of the Republicans supported this building. We all thought it was a crazy idea."
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk defended the building and pointed out what he considers a flaw in the poll. "The SurveyUSA question fails to provide context to respondents," he said in a statement provided to 5 Eyewitness News. He says Democrats and Republicans supported the Capitol renovation that will reduce space for senators in that building.
Bakk says a new office building is the "most cost-effective, long-term solution" to the space crunch.
Still, there is broad opposition across the political spectrum. Among 2,200 Minnesotans surveyed, 77 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats oppose construction of the building. The total cost is projected at $90 million, with $77 million from taxpayers and $13 million from user fees paid by Senators and staff who will park in a 265-stall parking ramp inside the building.
A separate public parking ramp that was originally part of the project was eliminated to cut the cost of the project.