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Letter: New Senate office building a waste of money

By District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne

This session, I am co-authoring legislation that would prevent a brand new, and costly, Senate Office Building from being constructed near the grounds of the State Capitol.

This building is totally unnecessary. This is not a priority for me, nor is it a priority for hardworking Minnesotans. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for this extravagant building.

The $90 million proposal that was approved by the legislative majority and Gov. Dayton last year would create a new building and parking lot. Senate Democratic leadership is pushing for the proposal because some senators will be temporarily displaced while State Capitol renovations continue.

Specifically, the bill would repeal the authority to build a new legislative office building, and the money that was supposed to be used for the project would be used to further the State Capitol renovation project.

This legislation may have suffered a fatal blow on Friday, as the Minnesota House Rules Committee approved a $77 million plan for state senators. The new proposal eliminates the parking facility while slightly cutting costs on a brand new building for all 67 state senators. The revised project is still too expensive, and building it makes little sense.

When I traveled across our district before session, I told residents to expect slow movement toward finalizing this proposal, and that’s exactly what happened. Certainly lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can put their heads together and come up with a temporary office plan that wouldn’t involve spending $77 million to construct a brand new building for our part-time citizen legislators.

File your state income taxes now. If you’ve been holding off on filing your Minnesota income tax return until new tax law changes had been implemented, you can now proceed with confidence.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue said updated forms and software are now in place, allowing roughly 300,000 Minnesotans to claim new tax breaks and credits on their returns.

If you are using tax software on your personal computer to file your taxes, be sure to accept and install updates from your software provider as this version will reflect the latest state changes. If you have already filed your taxes, the revenue department will be contacting you if you qualify for any updated deductions.