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Repairs Needed at Oklahoma Capitol Building

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News, Politics.
September 25, 2012

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The state capitol on North Lincoln in Oklahoma City is falling apart.

Most people wouldn’t disagree with that statement, but lawmakers are fighting among themselves about how to pay for it and even how much it’s going to cost.

Every day visitors come to the State Capitol to see the center of our government in the Sooner State.

This morning, it’s Jill Stichler of Slaughterville who is coming to the capitol to talk to state officials and lawmakers.

Jill points to yellow protective barriers which for the past couple of years have kept visitors from getting anywhere near the south steps.

“ This has been here in place for quite a while. And that stuff there to keep stuff that falls off from hitting people that looks temporary but it’s been there for at least two years.”

Jill’s pointing to metal scaffolding which creates a makeshift tunnel leading people into the south entrance.

It’s supposed to make sure no one gets hit by falling limestone veneer from the exterior of the building.

And, Dennis Flaming of Fairview agrees it’s just embarrassing and degrading to the public in the area.

“It’s the most prominent building in the state of Oklahoma. We ought to be taking care of it instead of sitting on our hands and not getting anything done.”

So, lawmakers are talking to experts Including the building architect and superintendent.

Representative Harold Wright called for the study saying he knows the needs at the capitol go beyond the exterior.

The Weatherford Republican says there are also issues with plumbing and sewage.

He says it’s important to fix this showcase of Oklahoma government.

“A place where people work in the state here in Oklahoma City. It was built in 1917 for a million, million and a half dollars, and now we’re looking at $140 million dollars to renovate it, but I think we have to do what’s necessary to preserve this heritage. You couldn’t build a building like this today.”

The legislature had proposed a $200 million bond to fix the capitol and other buildings in the complex on 23rd and Lincoln, but that fell apart on the last days of the session in May.

Representative Mike Reynolds debated against the bond issue four months ago because he didn’t want the money added to Oklahoma’s debt.

“ They took, gosh, $160 million out of the edge fund and squandered it on the endowed chair program. There was $160 million available in the last two days of session that the legislature in its infinite wisdom chose to do for the state capitol.”

Democratic Representative Joe Dorman has been a longtime proponent for fixing up the capitol where he points out cracks and holes on interior walls.

Dorman worries his colleagues on the other side of the aisle will spend too much time talking about tax cuts next session while the capitol continues to deteriorate.

“Obviously, I’d rather see us spend the money coming in on tax dollars on our physical repairs and paying off our bills rather than doing a tax cut this next year. I think we have a lot of obligations we have to address and the capitol ought to be at the top of the list.”

Back outside, Jill Stichler points to the barriers and scaffolding which she calls an eyesore and says lawmakers should do whatever it takes to get it done.

“I think we should fix the capitol. It’s a reflection of our state and the people who live here. It should be maintained.”

Representative Wright says one of the things he’s hoping to get answered at today’s interim study is an exact amount on renovating the capitol.

Senator Patrick Anderson has also requested an interim study on the capitol, but a date hasn’t been set.

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