ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Wednesday released his five-year spending plan for construction and renovation of state buildings, with a record amount set aside for community colleges.
The capital budget allows for $157 million in the 2006 fiscal year to go to public school construction, a key issue during this General Assembly. The total funding through fiscal 2010 is more than $557 million.
The capital budget allows for $181 million for the state university system in 2006 and $684 million through fiscal 2010.
Community colleges will begin receiving the first $47 million of what Ehrlich said is the largest-ever capital improvement program for Maryland community colleges: $240 million through 2010.
“Numerous institutions within the system have been underserved for too many years,” Ehrlich said. “We’ve tried to balance it.”
Coppin State University will receive nearly $52 million — $185 million through 2010 — to build the first three new academic buildings there in a quarter century.
More than $11 million was set aside for a new dental school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
The amount set aside for education in 2006 comes to a total $397 million, or 42 percent of total funds.
More than $39 million would go toward new health facilities in 2006. That includes $15 million for new ambulatory health centers operated by the University of Maryland Medical System and $10 million for a pediatric trauma center at Johns Hopkins University.
The governor’s budget scraps funding for renovations to the 51-bed Walter P. Carter Center psychiatric hospital in south Baltimore.
The highlight of the budget’s environmental projects is $128 million — $1.1 billion by the final year — for wastewater treatment improvements to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
“With regard to the environment, we are somewhat of a ‘Johnny One-Note,'” Ehrlich said. “But that ‘Johnny One-Note’ is the most important initiative we can accomplish in the short term.”
More than $76 million will go to land preservation in 2006, for an out-year total of $693 million.
Funding for public safety and correctional services totals nearly $50 million in 2006. More than $36 million goes to expand the North Branch Correctional Institution in Allegany County. About $18 million is earmarked for improving facilities to provide treatment and services for juveniles.
The budget indefinitely defers funding for four jail renovation projects and training centers around Maryland, as well as a new forensic science laboratory for state police in Baltimore County.
The governor’s budget also calls for $20 million for neighborhood revitalization in Baltimore, Montgomery County and elsewhere.
Governments typically borrow money in the form of bonds to help pay for expensive projects, such as building construction.
For the fiscal year beginning July 1, Maryland will issue $695 million in bonds, nearly all general-obligation bonds. The remainder of the $947 million capital budget will come from special funds, general funds and federal funds.
Here are some other new projects in the 2006 capital budget:
– $250 million for an oyster production facility at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science laboratory in Cambridge.
– $1.5 million for a new forensic medical center in Baltimore for training and performance of autopsies.
– More than $34 million for improvements at Morgan State University.