COLUMBUS -- The heads of the state's two-year community colleges and four-year universities started work Friday on a new capital budget that will determine which ones get funding for building renovations and construction projects over the next couple of years.
It's the second time through the process that Gov. John Kasich established after taking office, moving away from a sometimes-ugly money grab by the institutions to a more cooperative effort involving give and take among competing campuses.
"Everybody wanted a piece of the pizza, which diluted the effects of the pizza," Kasich said during a press conference in his ceremonial offices at the Statehouse Friday. "Instead of diluting the dollars that were available, these folks came together in an unprecedented, unselfish way and were able to reach a conclusion that we think has lifted Ohio and benefited our students and helped them to get jobs."
The capital budget will be presented to lawmakers early next year for their review and approval. The state's Office of Budget and Management has already started its planning for the bill, asking colleges and universities for their recommendations, which will be combined with other construction funding at state and some community agencies in the final legislation.
The last capital budget included more than $1.7 billion in spending for public schools, bridges and roads, state park and prison repairs and other infrastructure needs.
Budget Director Tim Keen said $400 million of that total was earmarked for higher education projects, with about $350 million of that total identified by colleges and universities.
Portions of the capital budget are aimed at economic development, via facilities that offer job training and related programs. For example, Stark State and Zane State colleges both snagged funds in the last capital to bolster their energy training programs, with some focus on skills needed in eastern Ohio's emerging shale oilfields.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.