The Indiana Senate version of the state budget provides $37.5 million in state funding for a proposed Hulman Center renovation project and convention center, which is $12.5 million less than the House version of the budget.

Still, Indiana State University officials said they remain grateful for the state’s support of the project.

The Senate budget authorizes $75 million in bonding for a large-scale renovation and expansion of Hulman Center, with the state paying half of the cost through fee replacement, or reimbursement, of the long-term debt, according to state Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute.

The other half would have to be funded locally.

Also, the Hulman Center renovation was included as part of the governor’s Regional Cities Initiative to strengthen economic development projects in selected regions of the state, Ford said.

“The future of Terre Haute’s Hulman Center is promising and I am pleased the General Assembly has approved sufficient funding to allow for renovation,” Ford said in a news release. “In addition to the symbolic importance of Hulman Center to the community, Vigo County will see more visitors, jobs and increased earnings when this project is complete. This project will continue to bring positive economic development opportunities to our state.”

Greg Goode, ISU executive director of government relations, said in a statement that ISU “is very grateful to the Indiana State Senate for including the Hulman Center project in its version of the state budget bill. We are particularly appreciative of our state senator, Jon Ford, for his tireless work and advocacy in advancing the project.”

The Senate version calls for $37.5 million in state fee replacement, which means ISU would issue debt and the state would reimburse ISU those costs over the term of the bond issue, said Diann McKee, ISU vice president for business affairs and finance. That is similar to what happens for academic buildings.

Under the House budget, the state would guarantee $50 million of the funding, with local governments providing about $25 million. The project cost has been estimated at $75.8 million.

The differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget will have to be worked out in conference committee, McKee said. “We are grateful for state support of the project,” she said, adding that many project details remain to be worked out, she said.

In previous discussions, local officials have said local funding would come from a combined effort by ISU, the city of Terre Haute, Vigo County and the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau. State Rep. Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute, has been instrumental in advocating for the project in the House. He is the House Majority Whip.

In an interview, Ford said he believes the Senate version is more likely to win final legislative approval because it involves less state funding. A new state revenue forecast is expected today, and state officials are concerned that revenues over the last year have fallen short of expectations.

The project is good economic news for Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley, Ford said. “My senate colleagues realize this is a very valuable regional project for the entire state.”

Goode stated that the Hulman Center project proposal “is an excellent example of local, county and university leaders working together and collaboratively with state leaders to increase the economic development opportunities of west-central Indiana.”

In other positive news for ISU, both the House and proposed Senate versions of the budget call for $64 million in fee replacement for the renovation/addition of the College of Nursing, Health and Human Services, McKee said. ISU would issue bonds, and the state would reimburse the costs through fee replacement for the academic facility.

McKee described that as “terrific” news for ISU.

Commenting on the prospect of funding for both projects, Ford described it as “very significant. I think it’s a credit to our community.” People are noticing changes and progress at ISU and in the community, and they are taking note. “We’re getting more projects,” he said.

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