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Ohio lawmakers pass $4.2 billion capital budget, the largest one in state history

Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau

Ohio lawmakers passed what the state budget director calls “the largest capital budget in state history.” The $4.2-billion-dollar spending package passed handily in each chamber, on what's expected to be the last day of session before this fall's election.

Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said the $717 million for community projects in Senate Bill 292 will make for good talking points for lawmakers this summer.

“When you go back to your communities, you can say, ‘I got down there. I fought for you. And I was able to provide a little bit of relief, a little bit of economic opportunity or I improved your life,’” Dolan said.

The entire House and half the Senate are on this fall's ballot.

SB 292 provides $4.2 billion-dollars-worth of improvements to state buildings, universities, parks and many projects communities wanted. It also includes $717 million in one-time surplus state funds for local projects ranging from a convention center and tennis tournament in Cincinnati to a land bridge in downtown Cleveland to visitors' centers at major park sites.

House Finance Committee chair Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said he was surprised by one item that several communities requested – new pickleball courts.

“I never knew how popular the sport pickleball was. I’ve never seen this many pickleball courts be put into community projects,” Edwards said as members chuckled.

A handful of Republicans voted against the bill in the House. In the Senate, only Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) objected, saying he was opposed to spending the $717 million on projects instead of providing tax relief.

“All of the money we spend here. Every single dollar. It’s not our money. It doesn’t belong to me. It doesn’t belong to the Senate president. It doesn’t belong to the Speaker of the House or the governor. It’s the taxpayer’s money,” Antani said.

The capital budget now goes to Gov. Mike DeWine, who has indicated he will sign it.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.