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Ohio Senate proposes one-time money for Cincinnati convention center, Columbus airport

The Ohio Senate unveiled $350 million worth of allocations for regional and local projects Monday morning, the second part of a $700 million package of one-time funds that come from excess money during the latest fiscal year.

Under Senate Bill 288, local communities would get hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of dollars for everything from welcome centers and community parks to bridge rehabs and pickleball courts.

Nearly $20 million would go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and its surrounding village in Canton between House and Senate allocations. In Columbus, most notably, John Glenn Columbus International Airport is slated for $7.5 million and TRC Inc.—a mobility testing partnership between Honda and Ohio State University—for $24 million.

The biggest line item, by far, is the $46 million in the House and Senate proposals for renovations to the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. That project is poised to cost $200 million total, meaning the state would be footing nearly a quarter of the bill.

Other big-money items in the Senate proposal include:

  • $10 million for the Lima Veterans Memorial Hall
  • $2 million for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
  • $1.5 million for Little Brown Jug grandstand renovations in Delaware
  • $2 million for the Mount Vernon police station in Knox County
  • $3 million for the Memorial Health Systems Education and Event Center in Licking County
  • $3 million for the Toledo Innovation Center
  • $1.4 million for the Akron Children’s Medina Health Center
  • $2 million for the Troy Great Miami River Recreation Connectivity Project in Miami County
  • $3.8 million for the New Franklin Sewer Project in Summit County
  • $2.1 million for a safety service and training complex in Cortland in Trumbull County

The Senate also matched the House’s $10 million for an Ohio State University-backed research center for advanced manufacturing called the Ohio Center for Advanced Technologies, and $13.7 million for the Cincinnati Open Tennis Tournament.
The Senate’s announcement comes more than three months after the House sent over its one-time fund appropriations. House members from both parties voted 75-19 to pass that as part of House Bill 2 in February, less than 24 hours after the proposal was first made publicly available.

At the time, HB 2 got no public testimony before passage. House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said lawmakers involved in putting the proposal together had been having conversations with local governments for months.

“Maybe not necessarily here, in a hearing room at the Statehouse,” Stephens said then.

Hearings on SB 288 scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“These are projects that people notice because they make a difference every day in their neighborhood,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said in an email statement.

Between the House and the Senate, 649 projects would pull at least some funding. According to a Senate GOP caucus news release, this proposal is just the first, nontraditional phase of the traditional capital budget—a biennial process appropriating and reappropriating money to physical projects statewide.

Anna Harden

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