"We don't need to do a bonding bill this year," Senate Minority Leader David Hann said Sunday at the Capitol. If the walls around him could speak, I think they would have retorted, "Says who?"
Many worthy projects are on this year's bonding wish list. But the one that's been cited all year long as most urgent and most deserving is the 108-year-old Capitol itself, which is now in year one of a four-year restoration project.
Keeping it on schedule requires a bond authorization or cash appropriation of at least $109 million this year. The Senate's offer of $30 million in cash in the tax bill isn't sufficient to stay on track.
At the request of one of the Capitol's most loyal legislators, GOP Rep. Dean Urdahl, the state Administration Department prepared a summary of the implications for the Capitol project if no bonding bill is enacted.
"Work would be suspended, except for stone repairs, window replacement and French door restoration scheduled for 2013. The remainder of the project would be mothballed and predesign and design work would be shelved," said a memo from Wayne Waslaski, the department's senior director for real estate and construction services. "The project will go into asset preservation mode. Greater problems will have to be repaired in a piecemeal manner, at a higher cost and disruption to the tenants."
With construction prices forecast to rise 3 percent to 4 percent per year and the building's deterioration progressing, delay would run up the ultimate pricetag. Urdahl estimated that a two-year delay would add $24 million more to what is now a $240 million project. If design work would need redoing when the project recommences, Urdahl's figure may be low.