31 lawmakers support bill to spend $2.5 million on capitol fountains

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By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. – When New York architect Bertram Goodhue won a nationwide contest to design Nebraska’s new state capitol in 1920, he envisioned a bronze fountain in each of the capitol’s four courtyards.

CAPITAL FOR THE CAPITOL: 31 Nebraska lawmakers have signed onto a bill that would spend $2.5 million over the next three years to install four bronze fountains in the capitol courtyards, as originally envisioned by the capitol architect.

The fountains were never installed, but now a group of former lawmakers has convinced 31 current lawmakers that the fountains need to be installed. For $2.5 million.

Those 31 lawmakers – a mix of Republicans and Democrats — have signed onto a bill introduced Friday that would earmark $2.5 million over the next three years into a “Complete the Capitol Fund” which would be used solely to construct and place the fountains in the courtyards.

The bill, LB797, notes that the fountains are the last piece of the capitol design yet to be put in place and suggests it would be an appropriate way to celebrate the state’s 150th birthday in 2017.

Nebraska lawmakers have certain battled over much less than $2.5 million in the past – in fact, last year they balked at the governor’s proposal to spend the same amount to buy an airplane the state had leased for years. And this year, lawmakers are likely to have trouble convincing Gov. Dave Heineman to spend money on their pet project, since he thinks the money should come from private sources.

Sen. John Nelson, R-Omaha, introduced the bill.

The Nebraska Association of Former State Legislators has pushed for construction of the fountains for the state’s 150th. The capitol was built in four phases over 10 years, from 1922 to 1932, for about $10 million in 1932 dollars and was paid for when finished.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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