The Norman Transcript

Opinion

May 9, 2013

Capitol face lift proceeds

NORMAN — If the state Capitol were for sale, inspectors would be preparing a laundry list of “deferred maintenance” items to take care of before any closing could happen. It’s the people’s house so it’s not for sale. It is, however, in need of a makeover.

The repairs may begin as late as this summer. Gov. Mary Fallin this week signed HB 1910, which forms a state board to oversee Capitol repairs. Even though record interest rates make this an ideal time to borrow and catch up on the work, lawmakers decided to do a pay-as-you-go plan.

Lawmakers for years have ignored the Capitol’s maintenance and repairs. Workers deal with antiquated wiring and plumbing. Visitors, lawmakers and Capitol employees have been detoured after falling chunks of limestone posed a hazard to entrances and exits.

First up will be the crumbling limestone exterior facade. It has been estimated to cost about $8 million to fix, far short of the $200 million some lawmakers had said was needed to repair the entire building. The proposed budget included $60 million for state Capitol building repairs and another $30 million for a new maintenance fund.

A suggestion made early in the session was to sell some of the state’s surplus buildings and property and use the proceeds to fund Capitol repairs. Many of those properties sit idle in Norman. We encourage lawmakers to follow through on that and use the money to fast-track repairs to the people’s house.

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