Ohio Budget and Management Director Tim Keen says he expects the capital bill to go to the Legislature by the end of February and be passed by April 1. That gets it in ahead of the General Assembly’s break and 90 days out from July 1 when many of the provisions will need to be effective.
After two previous rounds where Gov. John Kasich convened a panel of higher education leaders to pare down capital requests from institutions, the administration has changed things up for the upcoming capital budget.
Instead of using a higher education funding commission, Cleveland State President Ron Berkman is working with four-year institutions on a list of their needs, while Stark State President Para Jones is working with the community colleges. According to the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), both presidents are asking their colleagues for input and are narrowing the list of requested projects to those that align closest with the principles given to them by the administration.
Previously, Kasich had convened one panel representing both four-year and community colleges to help divide up the pot for capital budget dollars in higher education. Schools are also expecting to have a smaller pool of money to work with in this capital budget than under 131-SB310, the last capital appropriations budget.
ODHE said colleges and universities were asked to devote the vast majority of their capital requests to maintaining what they already have, “with an extremely high bar for new construction projects.” The institutions are also being asked to submit recommendations based on a number of guiding principles, including the following:
- Help build world-class programs.
- Focus on maintaining the investment the state has already made in existing campus facilities.
- Stimulate creativity by advancing strategic collaborations through partnerships, both on campus and with others in the public and private sector.
- Reflect the needs of today’s students by strengthening their learning environments, ensuring their safety and encouraging new degree and certificate completion opportunities.
- Increase Ohio’s competitive advantage by capitalizing on existing strengths.
- Strengthen the ability to respond to new or increased workforce development opportunities in the state.
- Encourage joint efforts to reduce construction costs and generate ongoing efficiencies.
ODHE said it will review the funding proposals along with the Office of Budget and Management (OBM).
Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, said higher education institutions are expecting to have $400 million in the capital budget, with $300 million for four-year institutions and $100 million for community colleges. He said that is about 10 percent less than what schools had in 131-SB310. While there is more need than funding available, Johnson said schools understand the constraints of the budget this time around.
He said Berkman has asked the IUC’s executive committee to help him review projects that are submitted and make the recommendations to the state. He expected the list of projects to be submitted early in the new year.