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Vote expected next week on $4 billion capital bill, likely the largest in Ohio history

The Ohio Statehouse sits in the center of downtown Columbus, with the Riffe State Office Tower to the left, and the Rhodes State Office Tower to the right.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Ohio Statehouse sits in the center of downtown Columbus, with the Riffe State Office Tower to the left, and the Rhodes State Office Tower to the right.

The state will spend more than $4 billion on school and university buildings, prisons, parks and the Ohio State Fairgrounds, as well as a land bridge in Cleveland, a convention center and tennis tournament in Cincinnati, construction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and more.

Senate Bill 292 is this year's two-year capital budget, which buys upgrades for state facilities and local infrastructure, such as parks, jails and the arts, is on track for a vote next week, though the state’s financial picture has been looking cloudy lately.

The capital budget contains $600 million for school buildings, $475 million for state colleges and universities and $400 million for local infrastructure, as well as $150 million for local projects and $717 million in one-time surplus state money. Other notable items include:

  • $21.6 million for Statehouse repairs and security
  • $34.5 million for radios used by first responders
  • $3.3 million for the governor's residence
  • $59.1 million for renovations at the Rhodes and Riffe state office towers
  • $19 million for training equipment and structures for the state fire marshal
  • $10 million for a new behavioral health facility in Dayton
  • $72 million for state parks campgrounds, lodges and cabins
  • $41.6 million for dam rehabilitation at state parks
  • $26 million for enhanced electronic filing for the Ohio Department of Taxation
  • $50 million for local jails
  • $255 million for renovations at state prisons
  • $196 million for Expo2050, a major renovation of the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Expositions Center


The budget also includes $38.9 million for "cultural and sports facilities projects" and $102.6 million for "cultural and sports facilities building fund".

"I do believe that this is likely the largest capital bill," said Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks in her comments on the bill to the Senate Finance Committee. "And this is due to a lot of factors, one of which is the increasing cost of infrastructure as a result of the inflationary environments that we have been. And capital projects, building projects do cost more now than they did in the past."

But Murnieks said while personal income tax revenues are coming in more than 5% behind estimates, expenditures are lower than estimates as well, and returns on investment and interest earnings are coming in above forecasts.

“The recommended capital budget that is before you is manageable and sustainable within the state's current and future budget capacity, keeping the state well under the 5% constitutional limitation for debt service as a percentage of revenue," Murnieks said.

The capital budget bill will also include $717 million in one-time money for big local projects, including a convention center and tennis tournament in Cincinnati, a land bridge connector in Cleveland, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Buckeye Lake and some high-tech research facilities. The money was split between the House and Senate to appropriate separately.

“I know there was a lot of hubbub around them changing our 350 (million)," said House Finance Committee chair Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville). "They didn't touch our 350. We're not touching their 350. And we should have a good one-time bill and capital bill next week.”

Edwards said he expects the bill, which has an emergency clause, to pass with the needed supermajority.

A vote on $2 billion in appropriations, including the House's $350 million in one-time spending, passed that chamber in February, though 19 Republicans voted against it. Most of them had opposed Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) in his bid for that post, though the candidate they had supported, Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Napoleon), voted for the bill.

“They were just being ornery because this is the last session before the primary,” Stephens told reporters at the time.

Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau