State promotes life sciences project

Leaders of the Missouri House of Representatives have suggested a bill that would ask the state to borrow $190 billion to create new life science buildings on the University of Missouri system’s four campuses.

Funding for the construction would come from bonds issued by the Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority. The state would begin repaying the bonds in the 2008 fiscal year.

Truman State University has already been notified that it will receive $1.5 million that was secured by Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) in September 2003.

The Missouri House and Senate will use this money to purchase equipment for the new life science building that has been approved. The bill still needs to be signed by Gov. Bob Holden.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is one of the campuses proposed to receive funding. A new laboratory, costing $43 million, has been suggested for the campus.

Four years ago Missouri Southern approved the creation of a new life science building on campus. A lack of funding has kept the structure from being built.

The proposal to create new life science buildings on UM system’s four campuses has created tension at the University.

“It is unfair,” said University President Julio León. “The University of Missouri should not be the only university receiving special funding.”

“I will not support legislation that does not include Missouri Southern in the bill for new life science buildings,” Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) said.

Rep. Steve Hunter (R-Joplin) was another opponent to a life science bill that would not include Southern.

He pointed out that Southern is the lowest funded state university in Missouri and has the largest inequity.

“What I would like to do is slide some of that money down from the University of Missouri,” Hunter said, “We have asked for about $38 million in the life science bill to go toward a new science building for Southern.”

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman (R-Joplin) said that hopefully with a local politician on the appropriations committee Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), funds might be allocated to Southern.