Governor Jay Nixon (D) has committed to working with the state legislature to issue bonds to pay for repairs to the nearly 100-year-old State Capitol.
Nixon, several legislators, and members of the media on Monday afternoon toured parts of the Capitol basement where evidence of damage caused by water leaks could be seen.
Some state lawmakers have pushed for money to be invested in repairs to the Capitol for several years. Nixon said he is making the issue a priority this year because the state has paid off some of the state’s debt, and because the legislature last year increased the bonding authority for state buildings by $400-million.
“All we’re saying here, Senate, House, Democrat, Republican, is, that this building is a priority to us and as we approach that 100th anniversary we’re going to use that bonding authority granted by last year’s legislature to make this building safer, better, and more accessible for Missourians as well as a better place to work for folks that call this the place that they get their work done.”
Cathy Brown with the Office of Administration’s Division of Facilities Management led the tour and explained to the lawmakers and media members what they were seeing.
She said water damage is, “infiltrating the south steps, through the carriage drive, through the facade, through the walls,” and among other things has left the carriage drive unusable out of fear it can not support the weight of vehicles.
The governor’s office estimates that about $40-million dollars in exterior stonework repair is necessary, and up to another $35-million in other repairs and renovation projects might also be considered once the legislative session begins January 7.
“This is not something that’s the most popular subject to talk about but it’s also part of our infrastructure conversation and this is the people’s building,” said Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City), “and if there’s anything we can pass on to generations to come, it is this building. It’s about to turn 100 years old and I think it’s very important that we address the issues to keep it going for the next 100 years.”
Nixon and lawmakers acknowledged there could be opposition to the bond issuance, but say the Capitol is important to the whole state.
“There’s always opposition from somebody for something all the time,” said Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage), “but what you’ve got a Capitol building that belongs to the people of the state of Missouri, of which we all come from different corners of the state to serve the people of Missouri. You’ve got 40-thousand school kids that came through this building last year, and I think they deserve a safe tour of the building, and for future kids that follow them.”
See pictures from the tour of the Capitol basement, then statements from the Governor and several legislators, below: