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Leaky Capitol Dome Could Pour On Problems for Taxpayers

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A gloomy rainy day is just annoying for most of us, but it could pour problems on taxpayers.

Lawmakers say the historic Iowa Capitol golden dome is leaking and threatening the icon's infrastructure.

There's also a mold problem across the street at the Wallace Building, and more mold is also at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy at Camp Dodge.

“We have a very serious infrastructure problem systemwide,” said Sen. Matt McCoy.

McCoy is the Senate's lead Democrat looking at the issues. He says they need serious money.

“It makes a lot more sense for us to borrow today for the buildings that have reached end-of-life state,” he said.

McCoy says they need all this money to fix up these buildings, but when putting together the budget from the Senate to the House, just $1 was set aside for repairs. McCoy says it sets the framework for talks.

He actually wants to bond about $100 million for the four buildings.

(Marissa Hopper/WHO-HD)

(Marissa Hopper/WHO-HD)

 

Interest rates are especially low. Gambling revenues would pay back the eventual $143-million price tag.

“We're kind of stuck as far as finding the funds,” said Rep. Dan Huseman.

Huseman is the House's top Republican on the issue. He admits this is a major problem, but bonding is not the fix.

“So it sounds easy. Let’s go borrow the money. I know what borrowing money is,” Huseman said. “I’m a farmer. I’ve had to borrow money all my life.”

But Republicans don't want to keep borrowing, so he says maybe fix the Capitol dome now and the rest has to wait.

McCoy says the governor needs to find a better idea now.

“He's known about it and he continues to state that he's working on the problem. But I’m not sure what that means,” he said.

Gov. Terry Branstad’s budget included money for the Historical Building, but lawmakers wanted fixes beyond that.

His spokesman says that for now, he might go for the $10 million for statehouse improvements and work with lawmakers to find money for the rest later.

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