Capitol maintenance fund proposed

The state would provide $20 million to a newly created fund for projects at the Nebraska State Capitol under a bill considered Feb. 2 by the Appropriations Committee.

Sen. John McCollister
Sen. John McCollister

LB1151, sponsored by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, would create the Nebraska Capitol Maintenance, Preservation, Restoration and Enhancement Fund. The fund could receive revenue from any source and the state would make a one-time $20 million transfer to it from the Cash Reserve Fund.

McCollister said the Capitol, which is 90 years old, needs a dedicated, reliable funding source to address ongoing maintenance and preservation needs. Other state buildings are subsidized by rent, he said, but none of the agencies that occupy the Capitol pay for use of space in the building.

Past attempts to develop a funding source have happened in “fits and starts” he said, including an effort by the Legislature in 2001 that was to appropriate $1 million annually to a program for Capitol maintenance, but which hasn’t been funded consistently.

“Sometimes nothing was appropriated at all,” McCollister said. “The effort simply couldn’t be sustained due to budget constraints.”

Under the bill, no more than 4 percent of the fund balance could be appropriated annually for materials, equipment or labor for projects as approved by the Nebraska Capitol Commission.

Kent Rogert, representing the Nebraska Association of Former State Legislators, testified in support of the bill. The association was active in raising money to complete the Capitol courtyards, he said, including raising $1 million for an ongoing maintenance fund.

Rogert said the building is facing approximately $200 million in projects over the next 20 years.

“This is our favorite place,” he said. “It’s where we became part of the political process, and we want to make sure that it stays in good shape.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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