Senate approves funds for area projects

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate approveda $1.72 billion capital budget yesterday that will provide money for the Fallen Timbers battfield, work on the Valentine theatre and projects at Fort Meigs. It will pay for dozens of community projects around the state.

The bill, which lays out bricks-and-mortar spending for the next two years, includes $505 million for school facilities improvements and $549 million for state colleges and universities.

Other big budget items: prison construction, state park maintenance, and flood relief for southern Ohio.

The House passed the measure on Tuesday, 86-11. It now goes to Governor Voinovich for his signature.

The capital budget moved through the Legislature with unusual speed.

Yesterday morning, the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions committee unanimously approved the bill.

In the afternoon, the measure went to the full Senate, which passed it 28-1.

Most controversially, the bill allocates $44 million to help build stadiums for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

But for legislators, the most hotly contested section was the money set aside for community projects. For Lucas County, the bill provides $44.7 million for com munity projects, putting it behind only Franklin and Cuyahoga counties.

Among local projects getting financial help are the restoration of the Fallen Timbers battlefield ($2 million), work on the Valentine Theatre ($3.5 million), and renovations and a museum of military history at Ft. Meigs ($2.9 million).

Sen. Michael Shoemaker (D., Bourneville) proposed an amendment that would divide the state into eight sections with equal population. Each section would be guaranteed an equal amount of money for community projects in future capital budgets. But the amendment was defeated on a voice vote just before the final vote was taken.