A bill that would authorize the issuance of up to $160 million in bonds to repair the crumbling state Capitol cleared the state Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
“This building is the people's house, and it is important that it be a functional building where they can participate in our state government without fear of injury,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, who is the author of the bill. “It is important that as a state, we take care of our assets to ensure our Capitol will be around for the next century.”
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement thanking the committee for its quick action in advancing Senate Bill 2044.
“It is impossible to overstate how desperately the Capitol needs fixing,” Fallin said. “The facade is crumbling and represents a hazard to employees and visitors. The electrical system is outdated and dangerous, and sewage is literally leaking into our basement. A building that should make Oklahomans proud has become an embarrassment.”
Fallin called the bill a “fiscally responsible, commonsense solution.”
“A bond issue would allow us to immediately begin repairs without draining large sums of money from other government priorities, like education and public safety,” Fallin said. “Furthermore, 41 percent of the state's bond indebtedness will come off the books in 2018, and over 86 percent will be eliminated in the next 13 years. Even with a Capitol repairs bond, the state is on track to reduce its overall debt.”
Senate officials said accurate cost estimates on the project are difficult because of the structure's historic nature and the uncertainty of problems that could be exposed once the project is started.
A study conducted in 2009 with architects, engineers and a construction company specializing in preconstruction assistance estimated project costs at $105 million.
The $160 million figure factors in inflationary costs of materials and the soft costs like moving phones, Internet service and office space and the temporary relocation of employees during the project, Senate officials said.
Fallin said she hopes the bill will move quickly through the Legislature so she can sign it into law.
She proposed a bond for Capitol repairs in her State of the State address.