By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich has asked lawmakers to sign off on $1.74 billion in new construction and repair projects statewide.
The two-year capital-spending bill, the first considered by the Legislature since 2009-10, includes funding for new or improved buildings on college and university campuses, needed maintenance to state parks, roads and bridges, even monies for coal research.
The legislation also makes provisions for the use of $250 million in fees paid by horse tracks wanting to install electronic slots for new construction at public schools.
Most of the bill will be paid through funds borrowed by the state.
“This will be a restrained capital bill,” said Tim Keen, Kasich’s budget director. “This capital bill will be smaller than any in the last decade. Given the direct impact that capital appropriations have on operating budgets — we must pay back the money that we borrow — [and] given our focus on trying to restrain the growth of government, the cost of government, to keep taxes low, we need to have a restrained capital bill.”
Keen outlined capital budget for the House finance committee Wednesday. Lawmakers expect to pass a final version before breaking for the summer.
About $400 million of the total will go to public colleges and universities, which worked together to create a list of projects for their campuses.
Included in that total is $10 million for a new Energy Industry Training Center at Stark State College in Canton and $6 million for a similar facility for Zane State College in Cambridge.
Additionally, the capital budget includes about $675 million for public school facilities, providing continued support for the nearly 80 districts currently receiving funding, plus resources for 40-50 additional projects.
The Ohio Public Works Commission will receive about $300 million for roads, bridges and other local infrastructure projects.
And $290 million will be used for repairs at state parks and other Ohio Department of Natural Resources facilities, state prisons and veterans homes.
Kasich said the capital budget includes no earmarks for local community projects.
“We want to create a formula for community projects in the next capital bill,” the governor said. “It’s become too much of a who-can-grab-what process, and we want to make sure that it makes very good sense.”