Missouri celebrates centennial of Capitol construction

Missouri officials celebrated the centennial of the state Capitol's groundbreaking Monday while Senate budget writers advanced legislation that would provide millions of dollars for the building's maintenance and repairs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed legislation Monday that would permit $50 million for stonework, window repair and other work at the Capitol, as well as $20 million for repair and renovations at state parks, $13 million for the planning and design of a new facility at the Fulton State Hospital and $38 million to construct a new office building potentially at a former prison site in Jefferson City and to renovate a Transportation Department building.

The capital improvements legislation includes other state projects, and a similar proposal passed the state House last week.

Momentum for including funding for work at the state Capitol, the mental hospital and parks increased last week after Gov. Jay Nixon's administration announced that state revenues through April were 11.2 percent higher than at the same point last year. Missouri's net general revenue totaled $6.67 billion from July through April, compared to $5.99 billion during the same period last year.

Shortly before the budget writers met, Missouri leaders celebrated the start of construction of the Capitol. Dirt first was turned during a ceremony in May 1913. The cornerstone was laid in 1915, the first government offices moved into the structure in 1917 and the building was dedicated in 1924. The current Capitol was built to replace one that burned Feb. 5, 1911, after lightning struck its dome.

Gov. Jay Nixon and legislative leaders said during a ceremony Monday in the Capitol Rotunda that it is a strong state symbol.

“Whether it's 100 years ago or 100 years from now, Missouri will always be a place where we come together with an eye toward the future and acknowledgement of the past to build a brighter tomorrow for the state we call home,” Nixon said.

House Speaker Tim Jones and Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said they remain awe-struck while working in the Capitol. Jones called it the “crown jewel” of Missouri and said that addressing its repair and maintenance needs will help to ensure future lawmakers have a place to work and future visitors are able see its artwork and other details.

“This grand old building needs our care and our attention if it is to continue to serve the people of Missouri for another 100 years,” said Jones, R-Eureka.

Time is running short for lawmakers to complete their recommendations for the state's 2014 budget. Lawmakers have until 6 p.m. Friday to approve a spending plan that will take effect July 1.

Capital improvements bill is HB19. Legislature: http://www.moga.mo.gov.