Lawmakers begin reappropriations for capital projects
The Ohio Statehouse. Photo by Jake Zuckerman, Ohio Capital Journal.
Ohio lawmakers are beginning the capital reappropriations process this week. The legislation funds projects like new buildings or facility improvements that often stretch beyond the state’s two-year budgeting cycle.
“This reappropriations process is not intended as a vehicle for new capital appropriations, nor is it intended to raise new issues,” Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks told House lawmakers Tuesday. “Rather, it is designed to keep those previously approved projects on schedule since most of the capital projects presented in the bill are already underway.”
Because the measure deals with projects that have already been agreed to, lawmakers tend to stick to that mandate. During the last reappropriation cycle, for instance, the measure passed without additional amendments.
Also, lawmakers with pet projects only have a few months to wait before the next capital appropriation process is set to begin. That budget will set a course for new spending going forward.
But with inflation surging, a number of lawmakers expressed concerns about being able to complete projects on budget.
“Will the amount appropriated come up short on some of these projects,” Rep. Daniel Troy, D-Willowick, asked. “And will we expect people to be coming to us saying, ‘tain’t enough, could you give us a little bit more here?”
Murnieks acknowledged the strain, noting that some projects are coming back with higher than anticipated price tags. She offered a hypothetical school project managed by the Ohio facilities construction commission as an example.
“There are processes where they go back to the drawing board, so to speak,” she said. “Are there places where working together with the district leadership they can find value to make adjustments that may, if rebid, produce some savings for the project? Ultimately, if a project cannot be reengineered to a lower cost level, then that may be dealt with in a future capital budget.”
The Office of Budget and Management will present the capital reappropriations plan to the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday.
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