COLUMBUS — A $2.4 billion infusion of borrowed cash will pour into new and renovated buildings on university campuses, K-12 schools, improved downtowns, and upgraded theaters, parks, and historic sites under a two-year capital budget headed for Gov. John Kasich’s desk.
The Republican governor wasted little time to sign the bill into law. He will appear at an event today with Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, a Democrat and former Toledoan, for a mock signing at the vacant Reeb School, now owned by the city and slated to get $2 million for renovations under the budget.
Among other projects, the plan holds $1.5 million toward a total proposed $21 million transformation of part of Toledo’s Warehouse District into Hensville — a shopping, dining, residential, and concert district centered on Mud Hens baseball at Fifth Third Field.
The Toledo Zoo Aquarium is set to receive $750,000 for its leafy sea dragon exhibit and a related touch-tank at Bowling Green State University for marine biology internships.
Attorney General Mike DeWine’s plans for a new state forensics laboratory on the BGSU campus will receive $2.5 million.
The budget also includes $10 million to help develop alternatives to dumping potentially toxic silt dredged from Ohio harbors into Lake Erie’s open waters.
This marks the first time in six years that Ohio’s capital budget includes funding for so-called community projects.
In some cases, maintenance of college buildings, park lodges, and other structures has been deferred because of a lack of funding.
Along with recent borrowing against the Ohio Turnpike and a proposed renewal of a local public-works bond issue to appear on the May 6 primary ballot, Mr. Kasich hopes to convert billions into construction jobs through investment in the state’s infrastructure.
State Sen. Scott Oeslager (R., Canton), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the bill is expected to create 31,000 jobs over several years.
“This is a good investment in Ohio’s future,” he said. “... I have no doubt this capital bill will be a critical catalyst to our economic development.”
The capital budget had largely been set in stone from the moment Mr. Kasich’s office handed it to lawmakers. The House made no substantive changes, and the Senate rubber-stamped the plan Tuesday by a vote of 30-1 to ensure it could get to the governor for his signature today. It will take effect in 90 days.
The bill, which holds $29.3 million for Lucas County projects, garnered just three negative votes total in both chambers. All northwest Ohio senators supported it Tuesday.
“One of my priorities was to provide funding for the African American Legacy Project, and I am very pleased to see that support for the completion of their Phase II plans has remained a part of the bill,” said state Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo).
The budget provides $75,000 for the legacy project facility.
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