COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The content of the bi-annual Capital Appropriations Budget has been released and we are getting a better idea of how much money lawmakers want to spend on maintenance and construction of vital state assets like schools, parks, and roads.
A relatively small piece of the budget, nearly $150 million, has been set aside for communities to use on special projects.
Those community projects address the quality of life Ohioans expect, according to the director of the Office of Budget Management Tim Keen.
“The cultural and historic projects; the parks projects; the recreation projects; those are important to the quality of life that Ohioans really enjoy,” said Keen.
Keen says the projects have an economic impact attracting development that is direly needed.
“It’s a chance for us to invest in the communities throughout Ohio and for the rural communities it’s extremely important because we don’t have a lot of large companies to make those investments,” said chairman of the House Finance Committee State Representative Ryan Smith.
Some examples of community projects include up to $500,000 each for two exhibits at the Columbus zoo, one for orangutans and one for elephants; up to $425,000 total for an addiction stabilization center and an opiate addiction treatment center in Franklin County.
“It’s very important that we make that investment so that we can be proactive; so that we can get after one of the worst problems in the country by looking at what are the root causes, what are we doing to prevent that from recurring,” said State Representative Adam Miller from the Columbus area.
In Montgomery County, $800,000 is being sought for a crisis stabilization unit and detox center with another $100,000 potentially going to the Funk Music Hall of Fame and exhibition center.
“You’ve got to have those services if you want to have a chance at successful recovery and ultimately they have to be long term and we need to work on that as well,” said State Representative Jim Butler from the Dayton area.
This balance of recreation, culture, history and needed resources to combat the opiate epidemic is being seen across the state.
In Lawrence and Gallia Counties the Field of Hope Prevention Center needs renovation funding as does the Railroad Friend Station Museum. They are also seeking $1 million for an EMS Service and Senior Center.
“The uniqueness about this is we’re going to combine multiple services out of one building and we will have a community building that will also house ems next to it so it allows everything to get under one roof,” said Smith.
Up in the Mahoning Valley Youngstown State University seeks to secure $4 million for its Innovation and Commercialization Center. A fire training center and a healthcare training center could bring in nearly $500,000 more.
“That in turn is going to imbue some great things in the future for commercialization and innovation for job training for the entire Mahoning valley,” said State Representative Michael O’Brien.
All of this excitement from lawmakers is not shared by everyone.
The Buckeye Institute says a lot of the community projects in the budget are good to have, but they question whether they are needed.
They point to $4 million dollars being set aside for a soccer stadium in Cincinnati.
Smith brushed off the concern.
“All of this is designed to make our communities the best place to live, work and play,” said Smith.
Hearings in both chambers on the Capital Budget are expected to continue for the next few weeks.
It will need to be passed before April 1st.