Our Opinion: Capitol on list of capital improvements

The state Capitol must remain an integral part of any discussion of statewide capital improvements.

We commend Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, for creating an interim Senate committee to explore capital improvements.

Some capital improvements are contained in a budget bill awaiting action by Gov. Jay Nixon; others died when senators failed to act on a proposed bond issue during the regular session.

The Senate leader charged the interim committee with finalizing a report by December that will explore state buildings, college campuses, mental health facilities and state parks.

The budget measure awaiting action by Nixon would tap into revenues through April that exceeded last year’s numbers. Capital improvements to be financed include: $50 million for structural, masonry and window repairs at the Capitol; $13 million to plan and design a replacement for Fulton State Hospital; and $38 million to renovate the Missouri Department of Transportation building in the Capitol complex and to build a new state office building on the Missouri State Penitentiary redevelopment site.

Not approved by lawmakers was a $900 million-plus statewide bond issue proposed by Nixon. The revenue would have funded: elementary and secondary education; higher education; state parks; and a new Fulton State Hospital.

Interim legislative committees perform a valuable service. They have added time to tap needed resources to explore complex issues. In the case of capital improvements, an added task will be establishing priorities.

The need for structural repairs at the Capitol was in evidence last month, when water leaks and moisture caused interior damage.

Century-old buildings, including the Capitol, require attention to avoid deterioration. Procrastination no longer is an option.

We encourage the governor and lawmakers to expedite necessary, structural repairs to the Capitol.

In addition, we urge the interim committee to provide a comprehensive, prioritized assessment of necessary capital improvements.

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