Ohio lawmakers agree to fund $1.2B in construction projects

Ohio lawmakers agree to fund $1.2B in construction projects

The Ohio House Republicans previously sought to eliminate $500 million-plus in construction projects, but has since abandoned that plan.

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State lawmakers have dropped plans to de-fund hundreds of millions of dollars for previously approved construction projects for colleges and universities, as well as new soccer stadiums in Columbus and Cincinnati, reports Cleveland.com.

Ohio House Republicans had sought the $500 million-plus in cuts on the grounds that the coronavirus crisis has created financial uncertainty for the state.

However, the House Finance Committee has abandoned that plan, instead adopting the Senate’s version of the state’s annual re-appropriations bill that would fund all $1.2 billion in projects. The House is slated to pass the bill on June 4, with the Senate is expected to follow suit next week. The measure will then be sent to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Prior to the bill, the House had sought to eliminate $325.2 million for the state Higher Education Improvement Fund, as well as $75.2 million from the state’s Cultural and Sports Facilities Building Fund. The proposed cuts to the latter would have de-funded dozens of community projects around the state, including planned new professional soccer stadiums in Columbus and Cincinnati.

The Ohio General Assembly passes a re-appropriations bill every two years to redistribute money already approved for construction projects, renovations and equipment purchases around the state.

Lawmakers also usually pass legislation to raise money for new capital projects by issuing bonds. But with the coronavirus crisis sending tax revenues into a sudden nose-dive and giving state officials limited time to focus on anything else, this year’s capital budget has been delayed until the fall, if it happens at all.