Sitting at a table inside Scott High School's new cafeteria, Governor Taft yesterday signed the state's $1.8 billion capital improvements budget for the next two years.

The bill includes $603 million for school construction around Ohio.

He also signed a bill establishing how a $10.2 billion school construction fund will be administered over the next 12 years.

The governor said the two-year capital improvements bill protects Ohio's investments in parks, public institutions, colleges, and universities by providing money for maintenance and renovation, as well as funds for important new projects.

"What I'm most proud of is the significant funding for new school construction. With these funds, we bring to $1.45 billion the total funds provided for primary and secondary school construction in my administration," the governor said.

He was joined at the signing ceremony by school district officials and Republican state Reps. Jim Hoops of Napoleon; Jim Mettler of Toledo, and Lynn Olman of Maumee.

The bill includes funding for several Toledo area projects, such as $5.4 million toward the $37 million cost of a stadium for the Mud Hens.

The largest local items are $12.3 million for network infrastructure improvements at Bowling Green State University; $12 million to renovate Memorial Field House at the University of Toledo, and $7.8 million to construct a center for fine and performing arts at Owens Community College.

Other local projects include Toledo International Youth Hostel renovations, $50,000; Sylvania Recreation Center and the Sylvania Senior Center, $750,000; Adelante drug and alcohol treatment facility, $225,000, and improvements at Walbridge Park, $75,000.

In all, it provides for $37.7 million in state funding in Lucas County and $30.2 million in Wood County.

For Toledo School Superintendent Merrill Grant, the governor's appearance was an opportunity to remind voters about the upcoming renewal vote on a permanent improvement levy. The levy can be matched dollar-for-dollar with federal funds to renovate school buildings.

"If we pass the renewal, which is not a new tax, we can access part of that money for school facilities, school remodeling," Dr. Grant said.

Scott's recently constructed 730-seat cafeteria was built for $2.1 million, included $400,000 in state funds. It replaced a fourth-floor cafeteria.

State funds covered only 20 per cent of the cost because, at that time, state school facilities funds did not apply to new construction - only renovation. The new state law allows all new construction to qualify for matching state funds.

On Aug. 8, Toledo voters will be asked to renew a levy that raises $5 million a year. The levy was 2.5 mills when first approved in 1990, but now is 1.9 mills on residential property because of the state law keeping school levies from growing with inflation.

Of the $5 million generated each year, about $3 million is available for building construction and maintenance in the district, so over five years it would generate $15 million in state funds. The remainder of the money is spent on equipment, including computers and copy machines.

Yesterday's visit to Scott was Governor Taft's fifth visit to a Toledo public school.

The $10.2 billion school facilities fund eventually will make available to Toledo $290 million,
which will have to be matched by $190 million in local funds.

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© Copyright 2008 State Representative Lynn Olman. All rights reserved.


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