Ohio’s institutions of higher education are heeding the Kasich administration’s order that they focus state capital dollars on maintaining what Ohio already has rather than building entirely new facilities, with only two projects seeking funds for new buildings.
The state’s four-year public universities are asking lawmakers for nearly $300 million in funds for capital projects, while community colleges are requesting $100 million, according to submissions made to the administration late last month.
The higher education institutions took a different route for their requests in this budget cycle, with four-year universities and community colleges submitting separate lists instead of having one recommendation coming from a combined panel.
In a letter to the administration, Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman said the projects submitted on behalf of the state’s 14 public universities embody at least one of the guiding principles set out by Gov. John Kasich, including building world-class programs, focusing on maintaining the investments the state has already made in existing campus facilities, advancing strategic collaborations through partnerships, and strengthening learning environments.
According to information submitted to the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), each of the public universities has at least one item on the wish list, totaling $299,999,937 million. The requested funds range from $1.8 million for the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), which is asking for state funds for four projects to replace and upgrade electrical and air conditioning infrastructure to $85 million for Ohio State, including $47 million for renovations to Celeste Lab, Hamilton Hall, and Newton Hall.
Of the projects, only Ohio State University and the University of Toledo (UT) are asking for funds for new construction projects totaling $7 million between the two universities. Ohio State is seeking $6 million for a new lab building for its Wooster campus, while UT is asking for $1 million for a UT/Ohio State Highway Patrol public safety facility.
Community colleges, led through the capital budget process this biennium by Stark State President Para Jones, have requested $100 million in projects, all for renovations, repair and expansions and none for new construction.
“We have heard and adhered to the governor’s desire that the largest portion of each capital budget be dedicated to maintaining the state’s investments in existing campus facilities,” community college presidents said in a letter to the administration noting that the upcoming recommendation does not include a single new building request.
Requested funding for the 23 community colleges ranges from $1.1 million from Belmont Tech for basic renovations and its industrial trades center to $15.4 million for Cuyahoga Community College, which is asking for $13.5 million for structural concrete repairs and the rest for its east campus exterior plaza.
The capital budget is expected to be introduced by the end of the month and legislative leaders are hoping to get the bill to the governor’s desk by the end of March.