• Capital Appropriations Bill Introduced
  • March 28, 2014
  • Law Firms: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office ; McDonald Hopkins LLC - Columbus Office
  • House Bill 497, highly anticipated legislation that includes funding for state and local capital projects, was introduced this week in the House. The capital bill makes appropriations totaling $2.39 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal years for the repair, renovation, reconstruction, and construction of capital assets of state agencies, colleges, universities, and school districts. For the first time in six years, the bill also includes funding for local community projects.

    HB 497 reflects the jockeying of the governor and the legislature in divvying up roughly $135 million for local projects across the state. The bill received two hearings this week in the House Finance Committee and is scheduled for an additional hearing and possible vote on March 25.

    The legislation also includes $100 million for the Clean Ohio Program, which is the maximum biennial amount authorized by the constitution. Of this amount, $75 million is provided for the Public Works Commission’s Green Space Conservation Program to fund the preservation of open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Clean Ohio Trails Fund and the Department of Agriculture’s Easement Purchase Program are each provided $12.5 million.

    While testifying on the measure this week, Office of Budget and Management Director Tim Keen said that Ohio’s park system is showing its age, as recreational facilities built in the 1950s and 1960s are past due for long-delayed repairs and renovation. HB 497 appropriates $236.4 million to fund repairs and improvements at Ohio’s state parks, forests and other ODNR properties across the state and local park projects.

    Also included in the capital budget bill is $130 million for Ohio’s prisons. Keen said the increase is necessary because prisons constructed 30 years ago are entering a phase that will require more intensive renovations. He cited roof replacements, new HVAC units, plumbing, and electric updates as examples of needed upgrades.