JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Workers started repairs this past week on a crumbling staircase outside of the Missouri Capitol, one of several projects planned for state buildings in Jefferson City.

State officials also plan to repair the cornice of the Missouri Supreme Court building and install a new heating and air conditioning system, the Jefferson City News Tribune reports ( ). In all, the projects are expected to cost more than $1.5 million.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said officials have been focused on building repairs that are needed for safety issues.

She said fixing the Capitol’s steps would help to avoid a more expensive project in the future. That work started this past Tuesday, and an exit in the Capitol’s basement was boarded up.

People who arrive from the north and east of Jefferson City have a prime view of the crumbling steps on the Capitol’s west side.

And Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said some people’s first glimpse of the Capitol now includes metal cattle gates blocking a deteriorating staircase.
“It certainly does not give a very good impression of the state’s Capitol,” Kehoe said.

Across the street, scaffolding surrounds the more than century-old building that houses the Missouri Supreme Court and offices for the state attorney general. Workers are expected to finish fixing the building’s cornice next month. Officials were concerned that pieces could have become loose and fallen off, injuring people and causing further damage to the building.

The installation of a new heating and air conditioning system for the building is scheduled to come later, as officials plan to request bids for the project this summer. They expect the work to take six to nine months.

The projects come as Missouri lawmakers struggle through another year of tight budgets and difficult spending choices.

The decision to put money into capital improvements has prompted questions from at least one lawmaker. Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said he would prefer just to block access to the stairs and use the savings to boost state workers’ pay.

“State employee pay raises are more important than Capitol facelifts,” he said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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