GOV. Mary Fallin wants to restore the Capitol building. But first, a study.
This may not end well.
The bookshelves within Capitol offices are filled with studies that were supposed to show lawmakers how to solve one problem or another, but instead wound up being ignored in part or in whole. The most recent high-profile example was the 2007 study of Oklahoma's correctional system. It cost nearly $1 million, was chock full of recommendations for reducing costs, was received with great fanfare by those who commissioned it — then was essentially abandoned. But hey, they studied the problem!
In her budget for fiscal year 2014, Fallin includes $2 million to study what work needs to be done on the Capitol. The idea is that the study will lay out precisely what requires fixing and precisely how much it will cost to make those repairs and renovations.
That sounds good in theory, but what the study won't provide is a way to pay for those repairs. The best way to do so is with a bond issue, which would allow the state to get its hands on the money, at low interest rates, and commence tackling the job at hand. But too many legislators oppose using bond issues for any reason. Their defense is based on ideology, not fiscal prudence.
A study of this scope will take several months, perhaps longer. Meanwhile the Capitol will continue to deteriorate (although Fallin has suggested spending $8 million to address pressing concerns on the building's exterior). Not to mention that time spent waiting for a study is time for materials and other costs to increase.
In her State of the State speech, Fallin mentioned a study that showed the state owns about 7,000 buildings and leases another 1,000 or so. Many of those properties are underused and a waste of money. House Speaker T.W. Shannon wants to sell these assets and direct the revenue toward infrastructure needs. But Shannon, who requested this accounting effort and has worked on it for two years, acknowledged recently that, “I don't know that we still know what all we have.”
Fallin referred in her address to developing an “Oklahoma Plan” that focuses on improving the health of Oklahomans. She's in search of affordable and accessible health care and health insurance options. “To that end,” Fallin said, “the state has engaged national health care experts to work alongside our Health Care Authority and Health Department to determine how Oklahoma can best develop our own solutions to meet the health needs of our citizens.”
In other words: They're studying it!