JMU gets share of bond money

Brent Finnegan -- April 24th, 2008

Perhaps the biggest story out of General Assembly yesterday was the approval of a $1.5 billion bond bill for construction projects around the state. According to a release sent out from JMU this morning, “More than $167 million in capital projects were approved for JMU by the General Assembly with an additional $2.8 million approved for detailed and pre-planning of projects ultimately totaling more than $95 million.”

Assembly approved $44.8 million for the Biotechnology building (Centennial Hall), “a great complement to the partnership between SRI International, JMU and other Virginia institutions of higher education,” according to the release. Assembly also approved:

• Boiler replacement (phase I) – $6 million;
• Renovation of the West Wing of Rockingham Memorial Hospital – $2.57 million for detailed planning;
Total project – $51.4 million
• Renovation and expansion of Duke Hall – $250,000 for pre-planning;
Total project – $43.7 million
• Performing Arts Center – $4.7 million;
• Last Hospital payment from the Commonwealth – $8.6 million.

Non-General funds approved include the following projects:

• Bridgeforth Stadium expansion (phase I) – $40 million;
• Athletic and recreational fields at Port Republic and Neff – $50 million;
• Baseball/Softball Complex – $2 million;
• Hospital (auxiliary space) – $10 million;
• Performing Arts Center – $1.2 million.

Some additional background from the Post article:

In December, Kaine asked legislators to approve a $1.65 billion bond for construction projects at the state’s colleges and universities.

The Senate wanted to issue $2.6 billion in bonds for education and other projects, but the House voted to borrow $1.8 billion, as Republicans argued that the state should not borrow as much during an economic downturn.

The compromise bill includes ways to improve long-term planning and provide more accurate cost estimates.

About 360,000 students attend the state’s 16 public four-year schools and 23 community colleges, making the system the 11th-largest higher education program in the nation. Enrollment is expected to increase by 51,000 students in the next decade.

State leaders have been relying more on borrowing for large projects, including a transportation package approved this year. In 2002, legislators and voters approved $900.5 million in bonds for higher education construction projects and $119 million for state parks.

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