State Office Building wins Golden Turkey award

The Minnesota Legislature is about to build another new office building for themselves and once again, they’re doing it without ever taking a vote on the floor of the House or Senate. This wasteful spending project and the lack of transparency won the Minnesota House this year’s Golden Turkey Award, given by Center of the American Experiment. Most employees at the MN House of Representatives still haven’t fully returned to the office since COVID, but that’s not stopping them from building a Taj Mahal of office buildings costing more than double what they spent on the entire State Capitol building renovation. 

In the closest vote in Golden Turkey history, the State Office Building overtook the Northern Lights Express train to Duluth after it was announced that high interest rates for the project ballooned the cost to $729 million. Over 3,000 Minnesotans participated in this year’s contest.

The Golden Turkey Award is a light-hearted contest to bring attention to the budget and allow Minnesotans to weigh in on the silliest spending of the year. Past winners include the Feeding Our Future fraud, Gov. Tim Walz’s $6.9 million unused morgue and an extravagant rest stop on Highway 35.

“Never before has the cost of a Golden Turkey nominee increased during the voting window,” said John Hinderaker, President of Center of the American Experiment. “Once the building cost grew to $729 million, it became the obvious choice for the most wasteful project of 2023.”

The State Office Building also picked up votes when it was revealed that a private balcony facing the Capitol would be part of the new building, open only to members of the Majority House Democratic membership.

The other nominees for the 2022 Golden Turkey Award include:

Runner up: $194.5 Million Northern Lights Express (a.k.a. Another Empty Train) — The Golden Turkey committee tried to get through the nomination process this year without choosing a rail or bus project, but those plans were derailed (get it?) when the legislature spent $194.5 million on a train from Minneapolis to Duluth called the Northern Lights Express. As Economist John Phelan says, “This train will end up being a very expensive way to ferry oxygen from one part of the state to another.” Click here to read more about this boondoggle.

Third place: $12 Million Governor’s (Money Pit) Mansion — The first person Tim Walz called after he became governor in 2018 was his real estate agent in Mankato. Since the job of governor includes the perk of living in a historic mansion on Summit Avenue, he could ditch his mortgage and move the family to St. Paul. After comfortably winning a second term, Walz proposed a $7 million renovation to the mansion, which quickly ballooned to $12 million over the summer. Click here to keep reading about the renovations.

Fourth place: $186,000 to Close the Flying Squirrel Research Gap We Never Knew Existed — When they tell you we can’t afford to “fully fund” schools, house the homeless, and take care of grandma in the nursing home, just respond with these three words: flying squirrel research. That’s right. Minnesota state government spent the entire $17.6 billion surplus, raised taxes an additional $9 billion, and still had $186,000 left over to study flying squirrels. Click here to learn more.

For more information on the Golden Turkey awards, visit