Office issue trips up DFLer Savick

A first-term state lawmaker is taking some heat for comments made this week at a candidate forum in Albert Lea.

Rep. Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, told an audience Thursday that she never voted for the $90 million Minnesota Senate office building now under construction next to the state Capitol. She denied the claims made in a piece of campaign literature that an outside political group distributed in House District 27A.

“That was settled before I even got to the Legislature, and I did not vote for it,” Savick said at the Good Samaritan Society event. “So, I just wanted to make that clear.”

But Savick did vote for the project, which was included in the 2013 omnibus tax bill passed in the final hours of her first legislative session.

Then after distancing herself from the vote that critics are trying to use against her, Savick told the audience that she believes the new building is needed.

“It’s money spent that we did need because the Senate had no place to go once they remodeled the Capitol building,” she said.

Savick’s remarks were recorded by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, the same GOP-backed group that distributed the literature.

Savick released a written statement today clarifying her comments.

“While discussions about the building do date back to before my time in the legislature, the project was finalized over the last two years,” Savick said. “In the 2013 tax bill, I voted for funding for the planning and architectural design of the building. However, the details of the building and final approval were handled by the Rules Committee, which I am not a member of.”

Savick is running for a second term against Republican challenger Peggy Bennett.

House GOP Minority leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, accused Savick of trying to mislead voters and rewrite history.

“It’s an issue that Democrats know is a liability.” Daudt said. “Doing one thing in St. Paul and saying another in your district is not a recipe to get re-elected.”

Daudt and other Republicans have been trying hard to make the Senate office building a campaign issue this year. They need to gain seven seats to win majority control of the House.