LANSING – House Democrats held press conferences today demanding that a lavish $134 million expense on new offices for Michigan senators be stripped from the budget. The budget heads to the House floor on Tuesday and could be voted on this week.
“The idea of spending $134 million on offices for state senators is absurd and must be fought and stripped from this budget,” said Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids). “It may be a great sweetheart deal for the developer behind this project, but it is simply not in the best interests of the people of our state. The mere suggestion of using taxpayer dollars for such an expenditure is outrageous to every family in Michigan that has been asked to sacrifice in tough times.”
House and Senate Republicans continue to justify the move for Michigan’s 38 senators as necessary on the grounds that the current facility is dated, 50 yards further away and that each Senator could get a nice view of the state Capitol at the new location. But Democrats contend that there can be no justification for the expense, which amounts to $3.5 million per senator.
“The $134 million could be used countless better ways than giving state senators a better office view,” said Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason). “Instead of doling out $3.5 million per senator for cushy new offices, we could be hiring teachers, helping students pay for college or restoring some of the tax cuts that were taken away from Michigan’s working families. The budget is a statement of Michigan’s priorities, and right now this budget says that luxury for legislators is more important than the needs of Michigan’s middle class.”
The original cost for the Senate office move was estimated to be $50 million, but that was revised upward to $70 million and is now pegged at $134 million.
The budget is expected to receive a vote in the House this week.