Tahlequah Daily Press

February 18, 2014

House speaker talks Capitol repair, tax cuts


TAHLEQUAH — Anyone who has visited the state capitol lately may have noticed its state of disrepair. ‘

Lawmakers agree repairs are needed, but in yet another year of flat budgets are unsure how to fund the venture.

According to the Associated Press, newly elected House Speaker Jeff Hickman says his Republican colleagues agree on the need for repairs, but have yet to agree on how to pay for it.

During last week’s Legislative Focus, Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Moore pointed out that money for repairs, once the project is funded, should be used from the bottom up at the statehouse.

“I understand there is a bill to pay for renovations, but wouldn’t that money be better spent fixing the sewer system?” Moore asked Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, and Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Westville. “It seems they’re more interested in buying new office furniture.”

Brown drew attention to the lavishly appointed second floor of the historic building.

“Yeah, that second floor looks great,” said Brown. “Everyone wants to put on the nice suit, just don’t try to use the restroom in the basement.”

Hickman met behind closed doors Monday with the Republican caucus to discuss various proposals to cut the state’s income tax and to hear from the Capitol architect on plans for Capitol repairs.

Hickman says no consensus has been reached on the specifics of a tax cut or Capitol repairs, but that members do agree improvements must be made to the nearly 100-year-old building.

A Senate committee last week overwhelmingly approved a plan for a $160 million bond issue to fund Capitol repairs and Gov. Mary Fallin strongly supports the idea.