CHICAGO -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich proposed a $2.4 billion two-year capital budget, most of which would be financed with long-term general obligation bonds.
The state's largest capital bill since the 2005-2006 biennium would raise money for capital projects across Ohio in 2015 and 2016.
Ohio Budget Director Tim Keen told lawmakers March 18 that the increase from the last capital budget reflects the state's healthy fiscal position.
"This bill makes appropriations for the repair, renovation, reconstruction and construction of capital assets of state agencies, colleges, universities and school districts," Keen said. "And with the improved fiscal condition of the state, for the first time in six years, a portion of appropriations in this bill targets funds to support economic development projects of local or regional importance."
The budget was introduced Tuesday as House Bill 497. Keen said he hopes to have it signed into law by April 2.
Of the $2.4 billion in appropriations, roughly $2.1 billion would come from general revenue fund-backed long term bonds, according to Keen. The remaining $317 million would be financed with cash.
The budget features $675 million for K-12 schools. That includes $575 million that would come from bonds and $100 million from profits from the state's video lottery terminals.
The bill includes just under $500 million for higher-education projects, most of which goes to repair and maintenance of existing facilities.
It sets aside $444 million for the Public Works Commission for grants and loans to local governments for infrastructure projects, and $100 million for the Clean Ohio program.
The state's highways and road projects are typically funded through a separate Ohio Department of Transportation operating budget. The new capital bill, however, includes $100 million for ODOT's multi-year plan to address maintenance facilities along its highways.
The $100 million would come from revenue bonds backed by highway-user receipts and be issued by the state treasurer, Keen said. As part of the ODOT funding, the state would create a new Transportation Building Fund that will receive bond proceeds.
The administration is also proposing the state issue $55 million of shorter-term certificates of participation to fiance technology projects where the life of the project is expected to be less than 25 years.
The state generally crafts capital budgets every two years. This year's proposal is the most robust since Kasich took office in 2010. That year, the Republican governor announced there would be no spending for the 2011-2012 capital biennium in order to save money.
The 2013-2014 capital budget totaled $1.78 billion, significantly smaller than in previous years, and included no money for local projects. The 2005-2006 budget totaled $2.5 billion.
The Buckeye State has high double-A ratings and roughly $8 billion in outstanding general obligation bonds and $2 billion of appropriation-backed bonds.