Funding for building projects at midstate colleges cut from House budget

Major building projects at Fort Valley State University and Central Georgia Technical College's Baldwin County campus have been axed from the House of Representatives' version of the state budget.

Fort Valley State was slated to get $13.4 million in state bond funding to renovate Huntington Hall, Ohio Hall and the Isaac Miller Science building and Central Georgia Technical College expected nearly $18 million for a health sciences center. Gov. Sonny Perdue put money to start paying on those bonds into his proposed fiscal 2010 budget, which would take effect July 1. But House leaders took the money out in the budget the House Appropriations Committee passed this morning, and the full House is expected to pass Thursday.

The Central Georgia project would essentially double the campus' size, according to college public relations director James Harvey. The college has a space problem and is more than maxed-out with students right now, and the new building was a top priority for the state's technical college system, Harvey said.

State Sen. Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, said he was surprised to see the project deleted, and that he'd try to get it put back in as the budget moves through the state Senate. The Senate must still sign off on the budget before a final budget can be sent to Perdue for his signature.

Grant said proponents have been trying to fund the Central Georgia expansion for four years and "I'm just getting a little frustrated with the whole process."

Other state schools seemingly benefited from the cut. The House added funding for an outdoor recreation facility and a science center at Georgia State University in Atlanta, as well as funding for construction of a dentistry school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ben Harbin represents the Augusta area. Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson attended Georgia State and his son works there, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this morning.

Middle Georgia universities and colleges did hang on to funding for tens of millions in other construction projects. There are plans to build a teacher education building at Macon State College in Macon, to renovate Ennis Hall at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville and plans to build a medical technology building in Griffin.

There are tens of millions more for general repairs to universities and colleges statewide, as well as hundreds of millions in bond funds for K-12 school construction across the state.