The state Capitol building is literally crumbling. The problems aren't new, but have escalated to become critical. Although yellow barricades and scaffolding to protect passers-by from falling chunks of limestone were erected 18 months ago, no final action was taken to solve this safety issue. A recent televised tour conducted by Gov. Mary Fallin revealed additional structural problems, outdated wiring, leaking plumbing and a faulty sewer; in addition to offensive smells in the basement, this could become a serious health issue.
These external and internal problems project a sad image for our state. Furthermore, if somebody should be injured, maimed or killed, it could lead to crippling litigation; the repairs can't be postponed any longer. Current estimates for repairs amount about to $160 million. Since a previous bond issue proposal was crushed by the Legislature, and prospects for the current session are also slim, new approaches should be undertaken. The suggestion by state Rep. Richard Morrissette — “Fallin urges legislators to act” (News, Feb. 5) — to tap the Rainy Day Fund should be given prompt consideration. The fund has $596 million, the state constitution allows three-eighths, or $223 million, to stabilize this year's budget; an additional $143 million can be used in an emergency. Let's declare an emergency and get moving on this pressing problem!
The maintenance departments of all state buildings should be required to submit annual reports of needed repairs, cost estimates and relative priority. We must avoid recurrence of this disgraceful but preventable incident.
Raoul Carubelli, Oklahoma City