Our Opinion: Don’t squander ‘public inheritance’; fix the Capitol

During a centennial celebration, the state Capitol was called “the crown jewel of our state, a cathedral of democracy.”

That characterization by House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, would border on hyperbole if the building didn’t merit such praise.

The Capitol is a majestic structure, a witness to history, the seat of state government and a symbol of representative democracy.

But, like most buildings that have stood for nearly a century, structural repairs are needed.

Interior damage caused by water leaks and moisture were detailed in a story published in Sunday’s News Tribune.

That account followed news of, and editorial support for, a capital improvements proposal that would channel an estimated $50 million for structural, masonry and window repairs at the Capitol.

The funding would be part of revenues through April that came in 11.2 percent higher than at this time last year.

A number of respondents on our web and social media sites have indicated a preference that the money be used for salary increases for state employees.

We understand and support their sentiment, but officials have said the increased revenues may indicate a spike, not an ongoing source of funds. Consequently, an allocation to a one-time capital expenditure is more prudent than to an ongoing pay raise.

During Monday’s celebration, Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said: “This building is, arguably, the most splendid tangible public inheritance that has been passed on from our ancestors. I can think of no more beautiful, and meaningful, place to work in the state of Missouri.”

If you agree, and we do, the Capitol must not be permitted to fall into disrepair and succumb to persistent internal erosion.

The edifice, the artwork, the history and the symbolism are too important.

The Capitol is a “tangible public inheritance” that must not be squandered.

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