BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 7:31 AM
"It is time to get serious about repairing the state Capitol building and the state Capitol complex," Gov. Mary Fallin said last week.
She is absolutely right.
The Capitol, which opened in 1917 and which has been maintained and modernized in fits and starts - but too often neglected - is plagued by a number of physical woes.
Pieces of limestone are falling off the south-side exterior, requiring the installation of barricades and scaffolding to protect people entering from the south. Inside, there are damaged and leaking pipes, an outmoded electrical system and cracked and leaking walls.
The Capitol operating budget is $1.8 million a year but since 2000 some $8.8 million has been spent on emergency and non-routine maintenance.
Fallin on Thursday "showed off" the deplorable condition of the seat and symbol of state government during a tour that included other officials and news reporters.
There has been no formal estimate of repair costs, but state officials believe the total will be in the neighborhood of $160 million. A bond issue was proposed last year to pay for repairs but it was voted down in the state House of Representatives.
Fallin said Thursday that "all options are on the table" to pay for repairs, including a bond issue, cash appropriations and dipping into the state's "rainy day" fund, which is flush right now from greater than expected tax revenues.
The bond issue remains the best option, especially if Fallin and legislative leaders enact another cut in state personal income tax rates. A bond issue would provide an immediate source of funds and would spread the repayment over a period of years. Paying for such a large project out of operating revenues would mean continued tough times for core services such as education.
Let's fix the state Capitol, and let's do it with a bond issue.