On a 51-43 vote, lawmakers concluded Wednesday’s late evening session by approving a bill that doubles the amount of funding available for the project to repair Oklahoma’s crumbling state Capitol.
House Speaker Jeff Hickman’s legislation authorizes the state to issue a second $125 million bond issue for the second and final phase of the Capitol repair project, which would be used for the rest of the building’s interior and exterior infrastructure.
During Floor debate shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday, Hickman said the original $120 million in bond money is paying for repairs to exterior windows, plumbing and electrical, and adding heat and air in the common areas, according to eCapitol’s Cynthia Santos:
Hickman said the bond issue won't go on the books until 2018, when other bond issues come off the books, but approving this now would save the state millions of dollars because it would allow construction crews to continue working rather than tearing down and setting back up again.
Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, asked Hickman why things like antiquated HVAC and plumbing have not yet been addressed while office spaces have been.
"It's like you painted the '84 Camaro without fixing the engine," he said
Hickman said that in order to repair those major problems, most employees needed to be moved out of the basement because that is where most of the repairs will be done.
Hickman assured skeptical lawmakers this would be the final bond issue for the 99-year-old structure. Lawmakers also floated the idea of pulling back a $25 million bond issue for a state-run popular culture museum in Tulsa. The speaker said it’s possible, but would require a separate bill.
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