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Our Opinion: Massive renovation plan at Capitol

March 15, 2022 at 3:56 a.m.

Now that we've finished the current $50 million dollar renovations at Missouri's Capitol, the state is looking to spend a half-billion on ... wait for it ... renovations at the Capitol.

A half-billion here, a half-billion there. Pretty soon it starts to add up to real money.

But seriously, for families struggling to put gas in their cars and putting food on their families' tables amid skyrocketing inflation, the optics of this plan just don't look good.

To be clear, more renovations are needed. The recent two-year renovation project was for the exterior. The new, $535 million master plan, created by the Missouri State Capitol Commission, would address interior issues.

But it would go well beyond that. The plan calls for adding an annex under the south lawn, a new centralized visitor entrance and a new parking structure. That's in addition to improving office spaces and heating and cooling throughout the Capitol.

As we previously reported, the interior renovation project would eliminate all of the House committee rooms and Senate parking in the Capitol basement and replace them with office space for members of the House and a large committee room in the center of the basement.

The Capitol would also get a new 163,000-square-foot annex under the south lawn. A skylight on the lawn would provide natural light for the hearing rooms and House and Senate research staff offices that would be moved there.

A new visitors entrance would be added under the governor's portico and lead into the basement as well. Baker said the new location is more centralized than the current front entrance and would allow buses to unload more safely.

The project also calls for the construction of a new parking structure where the current Senate garage is, adding 200-300 public parking spaces and more metered parking spots.

Yes, we could use more parking around the Capitol. It would be nice to have more space in an annex building. And a new visitors entrance would be swell.

But do we need all this? We're on board for interior renovations for things that need to be replaced, fixed, etc. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act has been a problem at the Capitol for decades, and this project would address that.

One good thing about the plan is it would be done in phases, over perhaps a decade or so. But we ask our government leaders to be conservative in spending. The Capitol is the heart of our state government, and it's a point of pride for our state. It needs to be kept up. But let's do what's needed, not everything that's wanted.

News Tribune

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