COLUMBUS (AP) -- Ohio higher education leaders, instructed by Republican Gov. John Kasich to cooperate with each other when requesting state dollars, identified maintenance and repairs as far higher priorities than new construction in a 2014 capital funding request released Thursday.
Kasich praised a coalition led by presidents of Ohio public colleges and universities for identifying unique, innovative priorities through shared effort rather than competing for limited state resources.
"You know (in college) you have those slices of pizza sitting on the table there, and I remember back in the days when I was in college, you just grab as many slices of pizza as you can," Kasich said during a conference call detailing the higher education group's funding outline. "That was inappropriate, and these college presidents are acting so fantastic from the standpoint of what's good for the state is good for us."
Ohio University president Roderick McDavis, who chaired this year's Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission, noted that $166.8 million of the $404.5 million requested will be for unglamorous but important maintenance projects across the state, mostly refurbishing and upgrading existing buildings.
"As it turns out, because this was a collective process, I think what you're able to see is that many, many institutions in our state have the same concerns about current and existing space. This collective report gives the state the opportunity to see that deferred maintenance is a very, very serious issue at our universities."
Additional priority was placed on long-term savings, with the $71.7 million requested going to such items as energy efficiency enhancements, mechanical system upgrades and shared service arrangements.
Republicans who lead Ohio's two legislative chambers, Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William Batchelder, expressed initial support for the funding request, which will be taken up as part of a capital budget expected to be introduced in February.
The commission's further requests are: $117.5 million to modernize classrooms; $15.8 million for enhanced technology; $25.1 million toward expansion; and $7.6 million in strategic investments aimed at improving completion rates.