AT last, some capital for the Capitol. O what a relief it is!
Lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin have found a way to fund capital improvements for the state Capitol. It's not the best way — that would have been a bond issue — but it's a way nevertheless. At some point the safety barricades can come down, just probably not soon enough to put on the best face for the officials who'll visit in July for the National Lieutenant Governors Association's annual meeting.
Fallin has signed a bill to start a Capitol upgrade, part of a national wave of capital improvements involving state capitols. Oklahoma isn't alone in dragging its feet on overdue repairs. Stateline.org reports that Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wyoming are in the same leaky-roofed boat.
Oklahoma's Capitol idea involves yet another state board that will oversee repairs of the statehouse and other state-owned properties, using a pay-as-you-go plan to avoid bonded indebtedness. This could slow the process, but we're happy that years of procrastination are coming to an end. In January, Fallin led a tour of the building, pointing out collapsed sewage lines and oversized insects that apparently like the Capitol basement the way it is — crumbling, moldy and moist. Human visitors are less than impressed. The joke is that hard hats might soon be as mandatory as the metal-detecting security scans.
First up for the Capitol are exterior repairs worth an estimated $8 million. Perhaps this can start by the time the lieutenant governors arrive and the visitors will see the barricades as construction devices rather than safety blockades.