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Oklahoma State Senate
President Pro Tempore
Senator Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa
State Capitol Room 422
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
(405) 521-5565

For Immediate Release: February 11, 2014

Senate Committee Approves Legislation Authorizing Bond to Fix State Capitol

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation today that would allow for the much-needed renovation of the nearly century-old state Capitol building.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2044, would authorize the issuance of up to $160 million in bonds to renovate the state Capitol. The historic building was completed in 1917 and has had numerous problems in recent years, including various safety hazards; falling pieces of façade have required yellow barricades and scaffolding for the past several years to prevent injuries and rusted and crumbling pipes beneath the building have resulted in raw sewage leaking into the basement.

“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 Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, 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.”

“This is not a question of if this project needs to occur, but when,” Bingman added. “The time has come to get it done now before it costs us even more down the road.”

Exact cost estimates on the project are difficult because of the historic nature of the structure and the uncertainty of problems that could be hidden behind walls once the project is begun. However, a study conducted in 2009 with professional architects, engineers and a construction company specializing in preconstruction assistance showed the project costs roughly around $105 million. The $160 million figure factors in inflationary costs on materials and the soft costs associated with such a complicated renovation project like moving phones, internet, office space, temporary locations for employees during the project, etc.

“The stewardship of our tax dollars and of our public assets are two of the highest callings of any legislative body. This measure represents a commitment to the prudent stewardship of both public monies and our responsibility to care for our core assets,” said Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, who carried the bill in committee. “We don’t have a debt problem in our state; we have a prioritization problem and this project needs to be a priority.”

Last year, the Legislature passed and the governor signed into law a bill that requires Oklahoma’s debt to be capped at no more than five percent of average general revenue collections. Even with the issuance of this bond, Oklahoma will still remain well below that limit. Additionally, 41.5 percent of the state’s outstanding, tax-backed bonds will be paid back by the end of calendar year 2018.

“Similar to Oklahomans who take out a mortgage to purchase a home, this legislation will help us pay for this project over time, utilize low interest rates while we can, and save our limited government resources for core needs now,” said Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and House author of the bill. “This project is long overdue and we owe it to the people of Oklahoma to move forward.”

The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with a vote of 20-1 and now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

For more information, contact:
Sen. Bingman's office: (405) 521-5605

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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