By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
According to a report from MIRS, the new $70 million dollar office for the Michigan State Senate will actually cost over $130 million. $68 million in bonds to purchase 8 floors of the "Capitol View" building along with $66 million in debt service payments from now through 2047. That brings an estimated project cost of $134 million.
The Senate will take over the office in 2017-it is currently occupied by the Michigan Department of Community Health.
MIRS says "According to documents released by the Senate Business Office today, former Senate Majority Leader Randy RICHARDVILLE (R-Monroe), former Secretary of the Senate Carol VIVENTI and Mark MORANTE, fund manager for the MSF, signed the lease agreement on Dec. 18, 2014."
The agreement was signed even though the House never approved the bill-it couldn't get through lameduck.
"While senators voted 22-14 last year to sell the Farnum Building, it failed to get approval in the Michigan House, even during lameduck session."
>>>Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, a vocal proponent of the unpopular May 5th road package proposal, also strongly defends the controversial new Senate office space and has not addressed whether the $134 million could be better spent elsewhere.
“I’ve met with the Secretary of the Senate and the Senate Business Office and I believe the choice to move to new office space in Capitol View has merit. Increased security and improved technology and accessibility are worthy considerations,” said Meekhof, in a release.
Merit, eh? The money needs to be spent so Meekhof can have a better view of the Capitol! And a door is kinda janky...
According to "Despite projected $454 million budget crunch, Michigan senators push for new offices," from WXYZ:
"When then-Senate Secretary Carol Viventi appeared before House lawmakers to pitch moving to new offices last year, some of her rationales for leaving the Farnum Building--like its sometimes obstructed capitol views--puzzled House lawmakers.
"Not all of the offices face the Capitol, is that the crux of the problem?" asked a skeptical Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills).
"Pretty much," Viventi said.
"Isn’t this an expensive proposition for taxpayers in order to make sure that senators get a better view of the Capitol?" Greimel asked.
"The goal would be to provide office space to everyone that’s similar," Viventi responded.
But better views are only one reason senators are pushing for new office space. Another reason to move out, according to Richardville, is poor security. He said current senate offices leave lawmakers vulnerable.
"The back door can be opened in the Farnum Building," Richardville said.
"Couldn't you just lock the back door?" asked Channel 7's Ross Jones.
"No," Richardville responded, "because it can be unlocked."
It's sad to see that, while our roads crumble and Meekhof pushes a huge $2billion tax increase-40% of which has nothing to do with roads-money magically appears when it benefits Lansing politicians.
Like Reagan said, "a million here and a million there, and pretty soon we're talking real money."
I thought this was "our last chance," because "there's just no money for roads!"
Arlan is my State Senator-I wonder if I can check out the badass new view from his office when they move in 2017? ;) (Come on, Arlan and Bob! We'll have fun! Off the record.)
Probably not, but hopefully your Senator will let you up. After all, you paid for it. Every Michigander pays $13 just for Senators to have improved scenery, the least they can do is let one take a look! It's a lot prettier of a view than most of our roads, that's for sure.
Of note: The Capitol "visitor center and parking lot," which had an estimated price tag of $88 million, is on hold. "Because of budget concerns," MIRS says. Somebody better tell the Senate Majority Leader.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics. >>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com Facebook
|Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson|