First Look: What’s in the Capital Budget
Today, the long overdue FY 2013-2014 capital appropriations bill was introduced (HB482) – not to be confused with the re-appropriations bill, pending in the Senate, which we covered yesterday. The bill contains $1.7 billion in appropriations and $1.3 billion in new debt authorization. By comparison, the last capital bill, HB562, passed in 2009 for FYs 2010-2011, contained just under $1.3 billion in appropriations and $1.2 billion in new debt.
The main difference between this capital budget and the previous one is that Kasich’s includes $675 million for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, an agency that receive its last two-year capital allocation of $525 million in a separate 2010 bill. Taken together, Strickland’s capital budget (including OSFC) and Kasich’s appropriate nearly the exact same amount—just over $1.7 billion.
One big change, as expected, in the Kasich budget, is the elimination of most community projects—funding for civic facilities such as parks and museums. However, the bill funds $7.5 million in projects via the Cultural Facilities Commission, including $1 million for new exhibits at the Ohio Historical Society (OHS), another $1 million for OHS headquarter renovations and $546,000 for an online history portal. It should be noted that the Ohio Historical Society is a private, non-profit organization and not a state agency. The bill also funds $1.5 million for the National Afro-American Museum and $222,000 for the Ohio River Museum. It will be interesting to see if legislators, under pressure from civic officials back home, will feel comfortable advancing these projects while others in their district languish.
Looking at the funding by County, the big winner is Franklin, the home of state government and proposed recipient of $128 million in project funding, down from $160 million in HB562. Hamilton County is the next largest recipient at $37 million, down from $58 million in HB562. Cuyahoga County receives only $24 million—half what it saw in the last capital bill. Erie County, home of the State’s Veterans Home, gets the same amount as Cuyahoga. $17 million goes to Lucas County, down from $30 million in HB562. Stark County actually sees an increase, thanks to a new energy training center at Stark State.
The legislation appropriates $250 million from the Lottery Profits Education Fund—to be collected from racetracks upon licensing for video lottery terminal operations—for school construction. In total, the School Facilities Commission receives $675 million, the most assigned to any recipient agency in the bill. Previously, the program of school construction had been funded by a $4 billion securitization of the proceeds of Ohio’s tobacco settlement.
A total of $400 million was allocated among Ohio’s college and university campuses and the Board of Regents. Ohio State University, whose President was assigned the task of leading a process to determine which school’s projects got funded, received the most money of any university—$82 million—and the single largest project at any campus—a $45 million Chemical & Biochemical Engineering and Chemistry building. The next largest campus projects were a $25.9 million medical center expansion at the University of Cincinnati and a $19 million student activity center at Central State University.
Training for Ohio’s burgeoning shale drilling industry was a focus of funding in the bill, with funds allocated for energy training & education at Zane State College ($6 million), Stark Technical College ($10 million) and Hocking Technical College ($2.5 million).
The first hearing of the bill was held today in the House Finance committee. We were unable to attend, but will pass along any interesting news we can obtain about the bill and its prospects in the General Assembly.