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$14M proposed to design new legislative building

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

PHOENIX – Gov. Janet Napolitano’s wish-list for state building projects includes a new home for the Arizona Legislature, The Associated Press has learned.

An administration list of $40 million in building projects favored by Napolitano includes $14 million to plan and design both a new “House and Senate structure” and a new 1,200-space parking garage for the Legislature, Napolitano’s staff and visitors.

The new legislative structure would replace House and Senate buildings built nearly 50 years ago. Legislators, legislative aides, most of Napolitano’s staff and visitors now use surface parking lots near the Capitol.

At 300,000-square-feet, the new building would be nearly twice as big as current House- Senate buildings that together have just 160,000-square-feet of space.

The projects list didn’t include a specific figure for actual construction of a legislative structure but said planning and design costs typically represent 6 percent of construction costs.

The “project suggestions” list, dated March 20, fleshes out a $40 million entry that Napolitano included in the proposed state budget she released in January.

Napolitano’s proposed budget said $40 million in Capitol Mall projects would put the state on a course to modernize its facilities and develop the mall’s core “to align it with Arizona’s history and its vision from the future.”

The Senate building has had major problems with water leaks in recent years, and some lawmakers embrace the idea of replacing current legislative buildings regarded by many as cramped, outdated and ugly.

Some lawmakers consider the idea an extravagance that either shouldn’t be foisted on taxpayers or shouldn’t compete for more pressing needs for state spending.

“Probably the best statement that we can make to the people of this state is to have our financial house in order – and with a balanced budget – lower taxes on our people,” said Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa.

Mike Haener, Napolitano deputy chief of staff, noted that Napolitano has other spending proposals, including expansion of the Phoenix medical campus and raising teacher pay. The governor would not support spending on a new capitol “at the expense of some of the other things that we need to do,” he said.

Haener said cost and financing details for a new legislative complex hasn’t been worked out, but he said Napolitano likely would support some sort of financing, including a lease-purchase.

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