The Pryor Times

February 20, 2014

Refurbishing the Capitol

Sen. Sean Burrage

PRYOR, OK — Safety hazard, health threat, embarrassment; these are some of the words we’ve heard for the past several years when the discussion has been about the most important, historic building in Oklahoma—our Capitol building. It was dismaying when we first saw the yellow barricades and scaffolding that was placed along the south side of the building. It was put there to protect visitors and workers from chunks of the limestone exterior that had begun falling off. When those months stretched into years, that dismay over the ugly barricades gave way to frustration.

There are other problems that have literally caused a stink. Much of the plumbing in this building consists of the original lines, now nearly 100 years old. Many have completely rusted through, and there are lines that lead underground that have completely deteriorated, resulting in raw sewage pouring into the dirt under the building. The electrical wiring is just as old and is actually a fire risk.

The good news is this week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $160 million bond issue to finally begin a serious project to repair and restore the Capitol. I have long argued this was the sensible approach to paying for these much-needed repairs, and the timing is perfect. Our bond debt is among the lowest in the nation, and by 2018, more than 40 percent of Oklahoma’s bond debt will paid off. In addition, bond rates are at a historic low. It makes far more sense to use bonds instead of taking money from the general revenue fund we so desperately need for our schools, public safety, and so many other important services.

I want to extend my thanks to Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman for his leadership on this issue. He understands the serious structural problems of the building and the sensibility of utilizing a bond issue to address them. I’m hopeful that when he brings this bill to the floor, the full Senate will work quickly to approve this measure, bringing us one step closer to fixing the Capitol up, and bringing those ugly yellow barricades down.

Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5555 or writing me with your concerns at: Senator Sean Burrage, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 537, State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105. I always enjoy hearing from my constituents and consider it an honor to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate. May God bless each of you.