The Legislature has given final approval to a proposal that would let the state begin financing the construction of a new parking garage near the Capitol. The measure, House Concurrent Resolution 47, passed the Senate on a 28-7 vote. It had previously cleared the House 61-3. The legislation does not require action by the governor. Proponents of the measure have billed it as the “final phase” of the Capitol renovation and expansion, noting that the Statehouse’s new committee meeting rooms and auditorium invite people to the building, but that parking is difficult to impossible when lawmakers are in town.
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder. R-Boise, noted that the House has passed a plan to shutter parking meters during the legislative session, but the Senate hasn’t taken up that bill.
“We feel this is probably a much more appropriate resolution to the problem,” Winder said. The resolution also calls for the state Department of Administration to assess the $5-a-month state employee parking rate, which hasn’t been changed in more than two decades.
Lawmakers anticipate that a refinancing of existing bonds will allow the state to take on the additional debt without incurring higher annual debt payments.
“Those savings are what is going to be used to finance the parking garage,” said Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene. “You’re not spending additional funds.”
Critics say it’s debt financing all the same and shouldn’t be authorized. Long-termers also recall that the existing parking garage, located to the east of the Statehouse, was originally planned to have two more floors for parking, but this plan does not address that expansion.
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