LANSING – As the state budget enters final negotiations, state Democrats rallied with angry citizens today to demand that the $134 million dollar expense on lavish new offices for legislators be stopped in the budget process. Democrats also announced legislation to prevent future similar boondoggles from ever happening again.
“The more people learn of the Republican plan to spend $134 million on new offices for legislators to reward for one of their campaign donors, the angrier they become,” said State House Democratic Leader, Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills). “Our state government should not be for sale to the highest bidder. That’s why we are demanding Republicans block this boondoggle now, and why we are introducing legislation to prevent this sort of fleecing of Michigan taxpayers from ever happening again.”
The legislators noted that the building, lacking an appraisal, is considered overpriced and the profits are going into the pockets of a major Republican donor.
“Legislators don’t need new offices to the tune of $134 million. It is within their power to stop it, and it needs to be stopped now,” said state Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason). “We should never be in a situation again where, in the dark of night, a political donor gets $134 million for a project we don’t need.”
The Democrats plan announced today in both the state House and Senate would:
- Prevent Developers seeking contracts with the state from making political contributions to elected officials, candidates, political parties or SuperPacs. The developer behind the Capitol View boondoggle was a well-connected GOP donor who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Republican-aligned political organizations.
- Require that any purchase of property by the state have an appraisal of its value – just like most homeowners are required to do. The Capitol View project did not have an appraisal, leaving taxpayers in the dark as to the true value of the property they are purchasing. The Lansing city assessor said the project was overpriced to such a degree that he would not be using the sale in assessing property values in the city.
- End the secretive practice of allowing one chamber to approve building purchases by requiring votes in both chambers.
“It’s simply unacceptable that while our roads crumble and schools struggle, the Michigan Senate spends $134 million for a completely unnecessary project,” said Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren). “Republicans have said they don’t think taxpayers should pay more for buildings than fair market value. I agree. The Senate needs to block this deal in the budget, and make sure it never happens again.”