Senate Panel Passes $160M Bond Issue To Fix State Capitol

Feb 12, 2014

Barricades surround the Oklahoma State Capitol to protect bystanders from potential falling debris.
Credit Meghan Blessing / KGOU

An Oklahoma Senate committee has given overwhelming bipartisan approval for a $160 million bond issue to renovate and repair the state Capitol.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 20-1 on Wednesday to approve the bill, which authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority to issue the bonds.

Gov. Mary Fallin applauded the measure's advance. In a statement, she said the crumbling facade represents both a hazard to employees and an embarrassment to the state, along with an outdated and dangerous electrical system and sewage that leaks into the basement.

“Luckily, the Senate has acted today to pursue a fiscally responsible, commonsense solution," Fallin says. "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. 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."

eCapitol's Shawn Ashley reports state Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) cast the only vote against the bill’s do pass recommendation. Sykes expressed concern about the level of oversight the Legislature would have over the repairs, asking if it would be more than that involving the Native American Cultural Center and Museum.

The Senate and Gov. Mary Fallin have been supportive of a bond issue to overhaul the nearly 100-year-old building, but there has been resistance to the idea in the increasingly conservative House.

Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon was a vocal critic of a bond issue, but newly elected Speaker Jeff Hickman has said he's open to discussing the idea with his caucus.

The bill next heads to the full Senate for consideration.


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