MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The massive 3-year, $300-million restoration of the Minnesota State Capitol is about halfway complete.
But Republicans are on the defensive after published reports said they quietly pushed for $2 million in extra upgrades for furniture, upholstery and other items, including a $10,000 door.
The new and restored furnishings were supposed to cost $4.5 million.
But Department of Administration documents show Republican areas of the Capitol could see up to $2 million for upgrades, including:
– $1 million for higher quality furniture in Capitol hearing rooms.
– $20,000 for refinished wood floors in legislative leadership areas instead of carpet.
– And a $10,000 custom-made wood door in a non-public meeting area reserved for lawmakers in the majority party — in this case, Republicans.
“It’s just the height of hypocrisy,” said Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin.
Democrats are turning up the heat, claiming the Capitol upgrades come at the expense of other state programs.
“We should be looking at programs that help all Minnesotans, instead of spending $10,000 on a door to a Speaker suite,” Martin said.
Republicans won back the House Majority last year after attacking Democrats for approving a $90 million Senate Office Building going up behind the Capitol.
GOP-leaning groups piled on with TV ads.
“The Democrats completely control state government,” said one ad by the Freedom Club. “And look at what they are doing! They’re building a new luxury office building — for themselves!”
Republicans say they asked for, but never got, a cost breakdown for the Capitol upgrades.
And they won’t support a $10,000 door to an office that GOP leaders say the House Speaker will never use.
“$10,000 sounds like an awfully high number to me,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson, (R-Hanska), who chairs the Minnesota House Capitol Investments Committee.
“I would hope we go back to where we started with this project,” he added. “Renew this Capitol building, bring it back to its former grandeur. Do it in a bi-partisan fashion, and let’s kind of forget the political rhetoric.”