Here's a story from one of the Lansing political trade publications (MIRS) that is a real head-shaker.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why at least four states are trying to sell state buildings to balance their budgets.
But while Arizona is trying to unload two of its Capitol buildings to bridge a multi-billion dollar budget gap, don't look for that to happen in Michigan.
"Never say never in government," said Steve Benkovsky, executive director of Michigan's Capitol Committee, "but of all the buildings the state owns, this would be the hardest to put up for sale."
No one from state government -- including Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) -- seem interested in getting rid of the Capitol or other state buildings, even though Michigan is facing a $2.7 billion deficit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010.
Arizona's hole is $3.4 billion and it's looking to sell and then lease back buildings for its state House and Senate. Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California also are all weighing building sales, according to ABC News.
"Maybe they haven't been addressing their budgets as long as Michigan has," said Bishop spokesman Matt Marsden. "We've taken a more realistic approach to addressing our budget deficit."
Benkovsky said it would be difficult to assess Michigan's Capitol, which was designed by Elijah Myers and dedicated in 1879, noting its ornate, historic features. For instance, the sandstone and marble quarries used for the floors and façade have long since closed. And the nine acres of decorative painting would probably have to be done by artists from out East. All told, he said the building might be worth $2 billion. The Capitol also underwent a $156 million renovation 20 years ago, Benkovsky added.
Although selling and leasing the building back could provide a cash infusion for up to five years, Benkovsky said, paying rent would mean it would cost the state more in the long run.
"We'd really have to do some studies to see if it was worth it," he said.
The Capitol Committee is composed of four members from the executive branch, four from the House and four from the Senate. The Capitol is under the Legislative Service Bureau's budget.
Granholm spokeswoman Megan Brown said selling the Capitol "hasn't been considered." That was echoed by Marsden.
"The cuts proposed by the Senate and passed earlier this session represent a realistic approach to bringing government spending under control," he said. "Far be it for us to even consider selling buildings the government works in before looking at numerous programs costing the state far too much money in a time of a downturn in revenue."
There are 36 state buildings under the budget of the Department of Management and Budget, said spokeswoman Kassie Kretzschmar.
"We are not considering selling or leasing any buildings," she said. "What we are doing is utilizing space more efficiently and increasing occupancy at all buildings owned and leased."
Selling the House Office Building isn't an option since there are years left on the lease, Benkovsky said. Marsden said the Farnum Building, which is under the Senate's budget, is not being considered for sale either.