by J.D. Davidson
Working late into the night this week, the Ohio General Assembly passed its traditional capital budget, spending billions on statewide initiatives, business and industry incentives and pet projects for lawmakers.
House Bill 687 included money for state parks and the incentives for Intel’s planned $20 billion investment in two chip-making plants in central Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine called the bill an historic investment.
“I thank the General Assembly for their partnership in supporting these important projects across Ohio which will make a tremendous impact and continue job growth in our state,” DeWine said. “House Bill 687 also creates a significant and historic investment into our state parks, which are true gems which can be enjoyed by all Ohioans and those who support our tourism industry.”
He also called Intel’s investment a gamechanger for the state and the incentives key for manufacturing and local governments.
“Intel’s investment in Ohio remains a gamechanger for Ohio’s economy as well as our commitment to re-shore domestic manufacturing in Ohio,” DeWine said. “I thank the General Assembly for their support of our incentive offers to finalize this investment, as well as investment in important infrastructure for local governments near the project.”
But The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based policy group, followed the passage with its top 10 list of the worst projects in the budget, which the institute said contained more than $150 million in pork-barrel projects it believes should be paid for with private donations.
“After a hiatus due to the pandemic, Ohio’s pork-riddled capital budget is back, as is The Buckeye Institute’s Top 10 Worst Projects list. This year’s bill includes more than $150 million in spending on local projects that lawmakers could have put towards pressing state priorities or returned to taxpayers,” said Buckeye Institute Research Fellow Greg R. Lawson. “At a time of historically high inflation, every dollar not spent on public safety, healthcare or workforce development is a dollar wasted and adds to the amount of tax dollars every day Ohioans have to fork out of their wallet.”
The group’s top 10 include:
- $2.4 million for the Lima Community Pool.
- $2 million for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
- $2 million to build a parking garage near the Findlay Market in Cincinnati.
- $1.5 million for the Blossom Music Center in Summit County. This comes after nearly $3 million the center has received since 2016.
- $1.25 million for the Toledo Museum of Art. This comes after nearly $2.65 million the museum has received since 2016.
- $1 million for an expansion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This comes after nearly $3.15 million it received since 2016.
- $750,000 for the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati.
- $500,000 for the Dayton Art Institute. This comes after the $1.75 million it received since 2016.
- $350,000 for the Columbus Museum of Art. This is in addition to the $225,000 it received in the 2020 capital budget.
- $222,000 for pickleball courts in Clermont and Warren counties.
“Not only are millions of state tax dollars being spent to fund highly localized community projects, but the capital budget was introduced and passed in a matter of days with little to no opportunity for the public to learn what is in the legislation. Ohioans deserve more transparency from their elected officials,” Lawson said.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist at The Center Square with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.
Photo “Ohio State Capitol” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.