- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a package of legislation Friday that provides more than $300 million in bonding for repairs and renovations to state-owned buildings and college campuses.

Nixon announced approval of the bills during a state veterans’ convention in Springfield, touting the $33 million set aside for seven veterans’ homes.

“We need to ensure our veterans receive the best care we can provide, and today I am here to deliver on our promise to them,” Nixon said in a statement.

More than $150 million is planned for repairing state-owned buildings with things such as replacing fire alarm and sprinkler systems, as well as renovations to the bariatric showers in the veterans’ home in Mexico. And $40 million will go toward repairs at the aging Capitol, where stalactites are growing in the substructure due to water leaks.

A project to transform the Missouri Department of Transportation headquarters into a space for some legislative and executive branch employees also will get $35 million.

Public colleges and universities are allotted more than $160 million for delayed maintenance and other repairs. About $56 million will go the University of Missouri System, on top of roughly $38.5 million already released by Nixon for Lafferre Hall at the Columbia campus.

University System spokesman John Fougere said the funding will help address a roughly $1.3 billion backlog in maintenance and repairs, calling renovation projects that now can move forward “critically important.” Fougere said the projects are at buildings that will be used by students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, such as science laboratory renovations for Benton Hall at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Also included in the package of bills was $35 million for the State Historical Society of Missouri.

The money is planned for a new headquarters for the society, which will be in downtown Columbia. Spokeswoman Mary Ellen Lohmann said the new space will help showcase Missouri art and said now only a fraction of one percent of the society’s collection can be displayed.

Work by the artists Thomas Hart Benton and George Caleb Bingham will be displayed, but Lohmann said other works also will be rotated in for public viewing.

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This story has been corrected to show more than $150 million in bonds are planned for state-owned building repairs and renovations, not about $140 million.

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