Building program remains ambitious Governor budgets $800 million

January 31, 1992|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Despite his budget troubles, Gov. William Donald Schaefer is planning an ambitious $800 million building and maintenance program.

While much of the governor's capital budget is devoted to routine government projects such as improvements to sewage treatment plants or parkland acquisition, there are some big-ticket items.

Most of these are financed by the state's general obligation bonds or by revenue bonds, and do not affect this year's general spending budget. Among them:

* $17 million for the Christopher Columbus Center of Marine Research and Exploration planned for Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Plans call for an international marine research and education center on Piers 5 and 6, including a public exhibition center, a marine archaeology center and a 1,000-car garage, at a total cost of $130 million. Baltimore City and the federal government also will share the cost.

* $15 million for the Maryland Bioprocessing Facility, a Baltimore-area project designed to link biotechnology research and manufacturing. The $24.4 million facility will serve as an incubator for biotechnology companies that want to move from research to production.

* $52 million for new research space in the schools of medicine and nursing at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

* $5 million for the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and $10 million for the new clinical building at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

* $8 million for a new 2,500-bed prison in Western Maryland. The prison, scheduled to be completed in 1997, will cost $192 million overall.

The $800 million capital budget is substantially higher than this year's, which began with $727 million but was later cut as the budget crisis ballooned. The state is borrowing most of the money for building projects. Only $21 million is coming from the state operating budget.

The increase in capital spending is mainly the result of $71 million more in revenue bonds. These are financed by the income from the projects themselves.

The budget includes $60 million for public school construction, $35.5 million for park projects, and $173 million for water-quality projects, mainly sewage treatment plants.

The budget allows $15 million for legislators' projects -- the so-called pork barrel. That figure is down from the $18 million allocated this year, but lawmakers have been traditionally been able to find more money by cutting a few of the governor's projects and substituting their own.

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