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Kansas and regional news

Statehouse restoration costs soar from $130M to $173M

March 1, 2007


— The cost to restore the Capitol is going through the dome.

Lawmakers were told Wednesday that the project originally tabbed at about $130 million is now estimated to cost at least $173 million, and that doesn't include renovation of one wing of the building, which hasn't been estimated yet.

"The concern is, how did we get in this position," said Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City.

But Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said that while the increased costs were a concern, there have been legitimate reasons.

He said the costs of building materials such as copper and steel had increased dramatically over the past couple of years, and workers had found many unforeseen problems while overhauling the Capitol, which was built from 1866 to 1903.

"It's not surprising we've had additional costs," Morris said.

Some lawmakers, however, weren't so sure.

Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, said the state may be paying too much to make items such as door hinges historically accurate.

"Where do we draw the line between authenticity and common sense?" he asked.

But other committee members said they were satisfied that increased scrutiny of cost overruns would be done.

"It's getting attention," said Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius proposed increasing the Capitol project bonding authority by $55 million to cover the new cost estimate.

A Senate budget subcommittee recommended putting off a decision until the end of the legislative session. But Morris successfully urged the full Senate budget committee to accept Sebelius' recommendation.


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