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Ohio News

Ohio Lawmakers Get First Look At Long-Delayed Capital Budget

Construction on Licking Heights High School last year. That is among many school building projects funded by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which gets money from the capital budget.
Construction on Licking Heights High School last year. That is among many school building projects funded by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, which gets money from the capital budget.

Lawmakers are finally getting a look at the $2.5 billion state capital improvements budget, delayed for months by the pandemic.

State budget director Kim Murnieks told the House Finance Committee the state’s infrastructure and construction budget prioritizes the needs of state government, K-12 and higher education with projects that create jobs and economic growth – but there’s not a lot of new building going on.

“Most of the proposed capital spending is focused on sustaining and improving the state’s current capital assets," Murnieks said. “Placing jobs and economic growth as the priority, the capital budget can be viewed as a jobs bill intended to grow Ohio’s economy during these unprecedented times.”

The capital budget includes:

  • $452 million for higher education
  • $300 million for K-12 schools - 41 districts that have projects in process and additional districts
  • $10 million for safety grants for K-12, higher ed campuses
  • $280 million for Public Works Commission (local roads, bridges, infrastructure)
  • $62.5 million for Clean Ohio Program, preserving farmland
  • $280.7 million for Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
  • $50 million for local jails renovations – esp those encouraging shared use
  • $253 million for Dept of Natural Resources
  • $10 million for safety grants on higher ed and K-12 campuses
  • $95.6 million for Ohio Mental Health and Drug Addiction Services for state psychiatric hospitals and housing for those in recovery
  • $51 million for Ohio Department of Administrative Services for continued implementation of security for online systems and data sharing and analytics, plus upgrades for AC/heat, elevators, etc
  • $253 million Ohio Department of Natural Resources for dams, waste water treatment facilities, improvements at campgrounds and cabins

It's unclear the total that will be available for community projects. Among the requests sent in back in January, before the pandemic delayed work on the capital budget:

  • Columbus: $26.5 million for a new mental health and addiction center as well as upgrades to parks and airports
  • Cincinnati: $22 million for its new major league soccer stadium and downtown arts projects
  • Toledo: $30 million for a convention center ballroom and a Jeep museum
  • Youngstown: $6.7 million for mostly STEM type projects
  • Cleveland: no dollar figure, but requests for a variety of art, tech, health and environmental projects

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau