Oklahoma Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said last week the state should sell some of its buildings and land to finance repairs to the state capitol in Oklahoma City.
Some lawmakers have been considering bond issues for the repair effort, which is expected to cost more than $130 million, but Shannon said the state should sell surplus property instead.
“When state government owns 9,000 buildings, there is clearly room to liquidate some of those holdings,” Shannon said. He intends to file legislation that would deposit proceeds from property sales into a public endowment to finance maintenance needs, such as the capitol repairs.
“It is both prudent and necessary to use money generated by the sale of underutilized properties to pay for the upkeep of the facilities that remain vital,” he said at last week’s session of the House Government Modernization Committee.
Shannon sponsored a bill passed by the 2011 Legislature that requires the state to review its assets in an effort to avoid excess holdings.
The law, which took effect Nov. 1, requires the Central Services Department to determine the most underutilized state assets each year. The initial report is due by the end of 2012.
Oklahoma owns 9,000 buildings on 6,000 parcels of land. A preliminary estimate when the bill was passed was considerably lower.
Treasurer Ken Miller told the committee that the review of state-held assets should improve the management of the properties.
John Morrison, interim director of the Central Services Department, said three counties each contain more than $1 billion of state assets.
They are Cleveland County, home to the University of Oklahoma, Payne County, which is home to Oklahoma State University, and Oklahoma County, which includes the state capitol in Oklahoma City.