Archive for Thursday, December 6, 2007

Increase in Capitol renovation approved

December 6, 2007


Statehouse repairs to cost nearly triple what expected

It started as a $90-120 million project seven years ago. The current price tag for renovations to the statehouse in Topeka stands at $172 million, and lawmakers approved another $100 million today. Enlarge video

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— The saga continues.

The price tag on the Capitol renovation project has increased to $285.6 million.

That is roughly three times the cost that was recommended when the project was envisioned in 2000.

Even so, legislative leaders didn't blink as they voted to recommend additional funding to keep the project going.

"I think it's a pretty general feeling of the Legislature that we do have a responsibility to the future to try and step up here and make sure things get done," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

"None of us like increased costs," he said, but added that the changing scope of the project has required more funding.

On Wednesday, the Capitol Restoration Commission, which includes Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, was briefed on the poor condition of the exterior masonry.

"The time has come for a comprehensive restoration project to address these issues," said Vance Kelley, project manager for Treanor Architects, the Lawrence-based firm that leads the project.

Kelley showed video of large pieces of masonry dislodging from soft hammer blows.

The Capitol was built between 1866 and 1903 for $3.2 million, according to historians. Since then, Kelley said, the quality of some previous repair jobs "was pretty questionable."

Renovation officials said that they thought the cost to repair the exterior might approach $70 million but that they were pleased to get a bid for $38.8 million from Chicago-based Mark 1 Restoration Services, which has worked on the Nebraska Statehouse.

In addition, Kansas Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said it would probably cost $4.2 million to repair problems with the building's copper dome.

Greis also unveiled for the first time a price tag for renovation of the north wing and rotunda, which he estimated at $74.2 million.

The Restoration Commission approved spending $211 million and will take up the north wing expenses next year. Later, the Legislative Coordinating Council also approved the increased funding.

The project has been ongoing since 2001 and is expected to be finished by the end of 2011.

According to officials, the escalating price has been caused by a variety of factors. They include add-ons, such as a $15 million parking garage and a new ground floor of office space, which wasn't included in the original restoration plan. Also, inflation has been much higher than was expected in 2000, and workers have found numerous problems that weren't apparent at first.

"It has been quite an adventure to go through this process," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.


creamygnome 10 years, 4 months ago

I'll never understand why the government has to live in a huge pretty building. Why not some cheap-square-cubicle filled office building. We could save millions of dollars!

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

Can anyone argue that government can efficiently use your and my tax dollars? This sad example of reckless overspending is only one more (very expensive) reason why we need to reduce the size and scope of government and do away with any notion that government should be more involved with expenditures like education, health care and the arts.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 4 months ago

This is less an example of "reckless overspending" than a moral at the end of the story about what happens when you don't maintain your nice things.

Prior legislatures ducked their obligations to keep the Statehouse in appropriate repair. This legislature was left holding the bag by its predecessors.

dirkleisure 10 years, 4 months ago

STRS, you should be pleased with this.

Because so much money is being spent on the statehouse restoration, that leaves less money to be spent on education, health care, and the arts. Which means less money spent on properly educating children on the correct placement of commas.

Reducing the size and scope of government isn't going to take away the decrepit condition the State Capitol building was in. Government was going to have this expense regardless of where it spent money elsewhere.

Godot 10 years, 4 months ago

" Also, inflation has been much higher than was expected in 2000, and workers have found numerous problems that weren't apparent at first."

Translation: Treanor screwed up, big time. Or, Treanor knew that the money would be there, regardless. After all, the taxpayers have no choice but to pay up....

The legislature might as well get honest with us regarding the cost of rehabbing the universities, and triple or quadruple the projected cost.

Where is the governor on this? How can this be allowed to happen?

shockchalk 10 years, 4 months ago

Well, that was certainly easier than trying to get the Legislature to approve funding for the deferred maintenance problems at all of the Regents institutions! I guess Mr. Neufeld and the rest of the gang are better at finding money to fix the building that houses their offices than worry about the hundreds of buildings accross the state that are in dire need of repair. Of course, those buildings are just to teach our children........much less important than entertaining their lobbyist.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

Want to improve the Regent universities? Either raise tuition or raid the endowment funds. Do not ask taxpayers to fund your child's college costs.

gccs14r 10 years, 4 months ago


I don't want to subsidize corporate farms, public utilities, or industrial parks. Can I keep those tax dollars? I'd much rather they be spent on education than on fattening the wealthy.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago


I agree that we should not support corporate farms (welfare for the rich), public utilities or industrial parks. But let's not tax all in society to pay for the education of others.

Taxpayer funding of government schools is, in many ways, welfare for the rich and middle classes. Don't want to believe it? Then why is the child of a rich Johnson County corporate farmer or industrial park baron allowed to pay KU tuition at a tax payer-subsidized rate? Why is the low income homeowner who pays property taxes to fund government schools forced to subsidize the high school education of the child of a wealthy business owner?

Plain and simple, government education is tax payer-subsidized welfare for those who don't need it.

shockchalk 10 years, 4 months ago

The Regents Universities are STATE buildings and should be taken care of by the STATE!

As far as raising tuition, that has already been done and the Endowment Association funds improvements all the time.

Confrontation 10 years, 4 months ago

Who wouldn't want to spend $285 million to fix up their own jobsite? It's even better when everyone else has to pay for it.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago


So you're just going to ignore the logic behind my point?

booze_buds_03 10 years, 4 months ago

STRS-Would you mind providing me with evidence that this is actually taking place?

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

Sure. Let's start with an agreed upon fact: Tuition at KU is subsidized by tax dollars. That's why it is so much less expensive to attend a public college than a private school.

Every kid who attends a regent school and pays in-state tuition is receiving the taxpayer subsidized tuition rate. Therefore, if incredibly wealthy parents send their child to KU, those parents are paying a tuition rate that does not reflect the actual cost of the education their child is receiving. They are receiving a form of welfare for the rich.

To give you an example, the childless homeowner who pays property taxes and/or mill levies and/or sales tax is paying for someone else's kid to get a reduced-rate college education.

MyName 10 years, 4 months ago


Sending your child to school is not welfare anymore than driving your car on a state highway is a form of welfare. Both are public resources and are available for use by the all members of the public regardless of income. If you have a car, and have payed taxes etc. on said vehicle, then you are free to drive on a public road. Likewise, if you meet the entrance requirements and have payed your taxes and tuition, then you are free to attend a state university at a reduced cost.

Moreover, there are grants available for people who don't have the means that the "rich person" you are talking about has access to. So if rich people are getting "welfare", then poor people who have the opportunity to attend a University are getting more benefits than their higher income classmates.

In any case, tax money, for the most part, isn't a series of separate bins where you can pick and choose where your money goes. The childless homeowner in your example, is paying as much for state services like roads and bridges and public buildings (which I assume he or she makes use of) as the homeowner is paying for education (which he or she may not be directly making use of). Not only that, but the homeowner in your example is still indirectly benefitting from the research that Universities in this state conduct (and make available to the public for free), and the fact that (in theory) there will be less ignorant people in this State because of the availability of public education. This means a better economy, better potential employees/coworkers, and a better society for all citizens in this state.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago


But to drive on the road, you must pay for fuel which means you pay taxes that go directly to road construction and maintenance. It is a voluntary tax. Property taxes and mill levies paid to support other people's kids' education is involuntary. If you don't send your kids to the government schools, you still must pay the tax. You don't have to pay the tax for roads if you choose not to buy the fuel. Apples and oranges.

Your "better society for all" example is socialism.

MyName 10 years, 4 months ago

It isn't apples and oranges. The tax on fuel (and on car registration or driver's licenses) is analogous to the tuition costs students face. However, the roads and bridges in this state are also funded through mill levies and other taxes and government debt and are not solely funded by the gasoline tax. Moreover, even if you don't own a car and walk everywhere, you still benefit indirectly from the public funding of roads and bridges. For example, it would be much more expensive to get food and other goods from the store, as you would have to pay a portion of the extra costs of transporting those goods to the market.

Your "better society for all" example is socialism.

No it isn't. It has been directly proven that people with an education (as an aggregate) make more money and generate more value for the economy than people who lack an education. If all of the people with talent and brains (the educated people) left this state, our economy would sink. So when I say that public education means a better society for all, I am being 100% accurate.

dirkleisure 10 years, 4 months ago

Property taxes and mill levies are as much a voluntary tax as sales taxes or fuel taxes.

Nobody is forcing you to own property.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

dirk, Unless you're homeless, everyone pays property tax. Even renters pay the property tax of their landlords through their rent. When government increases property taxes, it is taxing the poor.

And MyName, I don't care about the collective, universal, populist, benefit you want for your global village. What you want is for your pet programs paid for with other people's money.

MyName 10 years, 4 months ago

Education is the number one line item in the state budget. I think that hardly makes it a "pet program." I've already listed the benefits to society (both directly and indirectly) and have shown that increasing the level of education in the populous, generally equates to having a better society (in both financial and in other important ways). All you've offered as a response are vacuous claims about how higher education is a way to subside the rich and middle classes at the expense of the poor. Not only is this claim bogus, in terms of taxes collected and spent, but it completely ignores the fact that higher education is the best way for someone to move out of the poor and into the middle or upper income brackets.

Taking public money, and using it to promote the general welfare of society is a core function of government, whether it is building roads and bridges, or educating the young. Your responses (which of late have been an attempt to label and marginalize, rather than address the reasoning of my arguments) show a short-sighted view of both government and society in general.

dirkleisure 10 years, 4 months ago

STRS, unless you are starving and dehydrated, everyone pays sales tax, income tax, fuel tax, etc. All of those taxes are built into the products you purchase, in the same manner property taxes are built into rent, by your judgement.

So your argument about a "voluntary tax" is rendered bogus by your own logic.


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