The Ohio House is poised this week to turn its attention to a capital appropriations bill that’s expected to move quickly through the General Assembly.
Most observers expect to see the capital bill turned around in short order. The bill is slated for introduction during Tuesday’s nonvoting session in the House.
Finance & Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) has scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday hearings, pending referral, on the measure, which will contain construction project funding priorities related to state-owned facilities, K-12 school buildings and higher education.
The capital bill is expected to include state debt-backed construction funding for community projects for the first time in six years. The Kasich administration has suggested those initiatives will benefit from a new “bottom up” planning approach.
Under that model, Gov. John Kasich reached out to eight regional economic development groups, as well as the arts community, to create a list of proposed projects to be included in the legislation.
Requests, released by the administration in late December, included: $14 million for the Ohio Veterans’ Memorial project in Columbus and $1 million for an expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Art, among other things.
However, GOP legislative leaders also planned to put their stamp on the funding list, prompting extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations that pushed back the unveiling of the measure. Most of those discussions have focused on the community projects, as the administration has taken the lead to enumerate agency building needs, and higher education projects that usually comprise a big chunk of the bonding authority along with K-12 buildings have been worked out.
Higher education officials under a cooperative approach announced in late January that they were seeking to incorporate around $405 million for facility projects at all 37 public institutions into the capital bill.