COLUMBUS – Ohio’s legislative leaders introduced identical Capital Budget bills Monday in the Ohio Senate (SB266) and Ohio House (HB529). The bills detail a proposed $2.62 billion investment in Ohio’s infrastructure and local community projects.
The legislature generally approves a capital budget every two years with the goal of funding needed improvements to public services and facilities across the state, including schools, roads and bridges, waterways and parks. This year the bills also increase the capital investment in mental health and addiction services facilities.
Even though hearings will held on the bills, the capital allocation decisions were made before the budget was released. Changes can be made in Senate and House, and line-item vetoes by the governor are possible, particularly given the governor’s sometimes contentious relationship with legislators.
Capital Bill Highlands
• Supporting Ohio’s Schools: $600 million will be invested in local school construction, including repairs, renovations and maintenance for primary and secondary facilities. Over $483 million will be invested in projects supporting Ohio’s 37 public colleges and universities.
• Supporting Ohio’s Infrastructure: $514 million will go to local infrastructure projects through the Public Works Commission, including local roads, bridges, water-supply systems, storm sewers and wastewater systems. This includes $100 million to support the Clean Ohio program, which funds the preservation of green space, farmland, open spaces and expanded recreational opportunities.
Over $234 million for the maintenance and preservation of Ohio’s dams, parks, trails, waterways and wildlife.
• Supporting Ohioans in Need: Nearly $222 million will be invested in critical health and human services funding for youth services, developmental disabilities, mental health, addiction treatment and women’s health initiatives, over double the amount spent in the last capital budget. This includes $20 million for new opioid community resiliency projects.
• Supporting Ohio’s Communities: Nearly $150 million will be used for economic development and cultural projects of local and regional importance to boost growth and increase opportunities throughout the state, in addition to supporting the healthcare projects above.
The Capital Budget includes two specific allocations for Buckeye Lake – $400,000 for the Buckeye Lake Public Pier to be built from the North Shore Boat Ramp and $400,000 to begin the restoration of the Buckeye Lake Feeder Channel. The cost of the new pier was estimated at about $1 million. The cost to fully restore the feeder canal which extends to Kirkersville is expected to cost millions. A restored feeder canal would increase the supply of fresh water to Buckeye Lake and reduce the amount of silt currently flowing into the lake.
Capital allocations for Fairfield County totaled $450,000, which included the feeder canal restoration project. Licking County’s allocation was much higher at $11,930,270, but most of it was awarded for projects at the Department of Agriculture and the State Marshall’s Office in Reynoldsburg, OSU-Newark, and Central Ohio Technical College. Licking County allocations did include $250,000 for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Louis Sullivan Building in Newark, $60,000 for Weathervane Playhouse improvements and $250,000 for the renovation and expansion of the Licking County Family YMCA via Central Ohio Technical College.
Perry County’s new allocation was just $220,000 which included $100,000 each for Jacob Miller’s Tavern renovation and Shawnee Development/Tecumseh Theater restoration.
The Buckeye Lake Region Corporation (BLRC) submitted funding requests for the biennial Capital Budget. In addition to the two new projects receiving funding, BLRC reports that the $500,000 allocated two years ago and unspent for a Northern Gateway and first-ever public access Buckeye Lake in Perry County has been re-appropriated in the latest capital budget. Thorn Township Trustees are coordinating that project.
BLRC thanked Senators Troy Balderson and Jay Hottinger, Representatives Tim Schaffer, Larry Householder and Scott Ryan and County Commissioners Ben Carpenter of Perry County, Duane Flowers of Licking County and Dave Levacy of Fairfield County for their support.