State spreading the wealth
Gov. John Kasich unveiled his $2.4 billion capital budget proposal this week, with lots of money for major building and maintenance projects across the state.
The bill is on a fast track, with the governor’s budget director urging final passage within a couple of weeks.
The total includes $675 million for school repairs, about $450 million for colleges and universities, $369 million for road, bridge and related public works projects, $100 million in Clean Ohio funding for farmland, open spaces and related projects, and $574 million for state agencies’ capital needs.
Tucked into it are all sorts of community projects, the first time those have appeared in the capital budget legislation for half a dozen or so years. That’s a testimony to the current state of the economy compared to the “Great Recession” years of the not-so-distant past.
Here are a few of the projects listed in the Legislative Service Commission analysis (online at www.lsc.state.oh.us):
The attorney general is seeking $2.5 million for a bigger facility in Wood County to meet “the increasing demand for laboratory and investigative services” at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
There’s also $220,000 to replace two driving simulators at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy’s Tactical Training Center.
According to documents, “Driving simulators emphasize a focus on driving and avoiding multiple distractions. Students are also able to practice intersection clearing, route selection, steering technique, pedal use, eye placement, smooth inputs and precision immobilization techniques.”
The state fire marshal is seeking $25,000 for a “chlorine trailer,” which is used to train first responders in dealing with chlorine emergencies. The existing trailer used by the agency is 30 years old.
The capital budget appropriates $12.5 million for the state’s farmland preservation easement program.
There’s $680,000 for improvements at the Statehouse, including new carpeting for the Ohio House and Senate chambers.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is seeking $6 million for “lead reclamation projects” and other improvements at shooting ranges.
A total of $10 million is slated to go to the Healthy Lake Erie Initiative to “support the development of alternatives to open lake disposal of material and sediment dredged from Lake Erie ... with the goal of improving the environmental and economic health of the Western Lake Erie Basin.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation is seeking $100 million to construct “between 20 and 25 facilities” to house its operations throughout the state.
More than $52,000 is designated to expand the Ohio River Museum and further showcase the W.P. Snyder Jr., “the sole surviving steam-powered stern wheel towboat in the United States,” located in Marietta.
There’s also funding for lots of other museums and historic sites — $397,900 for Serpent Mound in Adams County, $75,000 for the Great Circle Earthworks in Newark, $45,000 for the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta and $222,850 for the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool.
And there’s $250,000 for improvements at the Harding Home State Memorial in Marion, part of which will be used to build a visitor center.
Marc Kovac is The Vindicator’s Statehouse correspondent. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.