Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brownback’s budget proposal provides a portion of funding for new medical education building at KU Med

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Kansas University received some of what it wanted under Gov. Sam Brownback's budget plan that was unveiled Wednesday.

Brownback approved $35 million in bonding authority and $10 million from the state over two years to build a new medical education building and training facility at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

The total cost of the building is estimated at $75 million, and KU has made its construction a priority, saying the current facility is outdated.

In seeking a state commitment for a portion of the cost, KU had wanted the state to release $25 million that was returned from the federal government as part of a FICA refund related to payroll taxes paid back in the 1990s.

But Brownback is releasing only $10 million and depositing the other $15 million in the state's all-purpose general fund, according to Budget Director Steve Anderson.

Asked why, Anderson said, "My initial inclination was to put it all in the general fund, because certainly it would not have been recovered if not for the efforts of the Department of Administration."

But, he said, the project is needed and $10 million would provide a good start.

Construction of the building is part of KU's initiative to increase the number of physicians trained in Kansas. Brownback said his budget also includes funding to educate 50 additional doctors every year.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Brownback's budget "recognizes that we can't have a pro-growth strategy in Kansas without investment in our universities."

Gray-Little said she was heartened by Brownback's recognition of the role KU Med plays in providing health care to the state.

"The recommendation in his budget allowing us to train additional physicians for Kansas is of critical importance to all Kansans," she said. "And the state budget funds identified for this project will be matched with private sector dollars and university investments."