OHIO LEGISLATURE Capital bill clears Senate, heads to Taft

The state senator from Liberty cast the only vote against the bill.
COLUMBUS -- Gov. Bob Taft is expected to sign a Legislature-passed, two-year, $1.5 billion capital bill that pumps more than $500 million more into public-school construction and renovation.
Mark Rickel, a spokesman for Taft, said the governor expects to soon sign the measure that was OK'd Tuesday by the Senate 29-1.
State Sen. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd, who cast the lone & quot;no & quot; vote on the bill in the Senate, said he didn't believe the two weeks the bill has been before state lawmakers has been enough time for local officials and others to understand the complexity of the measure.
& quot;The first look I got was when the House Finance Committee got it two weeks ago, & quot; Dann said. Additionally, Dann said he didn't believe there was enough time for local officials to come and testify before lawmakers on the measure.
Dann was also critical of a capital-bill process that requires some local communities to hire lobbyists to get their projects funded.
& quot;I think the process is broken, & quot; Dann said.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed the measure last week.
Funding schools
Senate Finance Chairman John Carey, a Wellston Republican, said the two-year capital bill will help public schools across the state renovate school buildings and construct new ones.
Including the appropriations in the capital bill, the state will have earmarked more than $4 billion since 1998 for school renovation and construction, according to a legislative analysis.
The bulk of the money in the bill goes to fund construction and renovation at state facilities including institutions and state universities. Youngstown State University will get about $9 million.
The bill also provides several million dollars to local communities for projects ranging from cultural facilities to museums.
In the Mahoning Valley, the capital bill included funding for community projects including $2 million for the convocation center in downtown Youngstown and $750,000 for the Youngstown Business Incubator for a new market ready incubator.
Also, the capital bill included $250,000 each for scheduled improvements at Stambaugh Auditorium and Powers Auditorium.

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