Oklahoma lawmakers tour state's crumbling Capitol

Oklahoman Modified: September 25, 2012 at 4:43 pm •  Published: September 25, 2012
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Dana Webb, a policy analyst for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said that inside the building, the marble floors, artwork and other things people see are in “wonderful condition.” But she said that behind the walls, there are major problems, including a plumbing system that has never been completely restored, a hodgepodge of electrical arrangements and outdated safety systems.

Another problem is that dozens of remodels in recent years haven't had any standardized oversight, she said. As a result, many of the buildings' original components have been covered up with dropped ceilings, new walls or paneling.

“A unified, comprehensive operations and management structure is imperative for long-term preservation,” she said.

Lawmakers also discussed a variety of funding options for the needed repairs. Mark Tygret, House fiscal director, said lawmakers could consider a pay-as-you-go option, which would require an annual appropriation of about $35 million to $40 million over four years. That money could come from growth revenue, reductions in other expenditures, or some combination of both, Tygret said.

Tygret said lawmakers also could tap 25 percent of the state's rainy day fund with a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate, which would amount to about $144.4 million. Other options include a bond issue or money from the sale of state assets.

Both Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman have indicated that repairing the Capitol building is a top priority. Fallin proposed a $50 million bond issue in her executive budget earlier this year, while Bingman late last session proposed a $20 million appropriation to begin repairs.