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Politics
Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

MSU Buildings to See Major Renovations with Bonding Package Approval

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Scott Harvey
/
KSMU

A bonding package approved by the Missouri Legislature this week means millions in funding for state buildings and higher education repair projects, including at Missouri State University.

“I think it’s the most excited I have been about anything that has happened in our legislature in the past four years,” MSU President Clif Smart said.

He added, “On the Springfield campus it’s going to allow us to completely renovate two of our buildings in drastic need of renovation, Ellis Hall and Hill Hall. We have over $100 million of deferred maintenance. This will take $18 million of that off the board.”

$7.6 million of those funds would go toward Ellis Hall to make its recital halls more accessible to those with disabilities, install a fire suppression system, and modernize classrooms and practice areas. Hill Hall would get $9.6 million in renovations. The building was constructed in 1924 and houses the Department of Psychology and the College of Education.

“These buildings aren’t gonna look like anything they do now. Hill should look like Siceluff, which we renovated seven or eight years ago. So I think our students will be extremely excited about what these buildings are gonna look like,” says Smart.

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Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
Hill Hall would benefit from close to $10 million in renovations.

Almost $2 million would go towards projects at the university’s West Plains operation, which will convert the post office on its campus into a student center, and offer a variety of life-safety improvements.

The bonding package was MSU’s number one priority this legislative session.

The Missouri House on Thursday gave final approval to the roughly $300 million bond measure. That includes $150 million for repairs of state-owned buildings and $160 million in repairs for higher education facilities. Of the $150 million for repairs of state-owned buildings, $40 million will go towards repairs to the deteriorating State Capitol building, and $100 million is slated for other state buildings. Additionally, $10 million is for maintenance at state parks. The package of spending bills now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon, who had called for the bonding package in this year's State of the State address, and on Thursday applauded the legislature's move.

“I thank the legislature for heeding my call for a fiscally responsible, strategic bond issuance that will fund improvements to our college campuses and state parks around the state,” Nixon said.

President Smart specifically thanked Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) and Rep. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) for their work on the bill in each chamber.

He expects both Ellis and Hill Hall renovations to be completed within two years, with crews likely to start on Ellis this fall and complete during the school year. Hill Hall would then be renovated during the following school year.

Smart says MSU officials will meet Monday to discuss specifics. It’s possible the building renovation start dates could be flipped, but since both are currently host classes he doesn’t foresee construction occurring on each building at the same time.

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