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House Budget Committee approves funds for new Ellis Fischel facility

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 7:04 p.m. CDT; updated 10:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 27, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — The Ellis Fischel Cancer Center has another chance to receive funding for its new cancer treatment facility.

On Thursday the House Budget Committee approved re-appropriating $31 million needed to build a new facility for Ellis Fischel. The money had been withheld from appropriations by Gov. Jay Nixon in fiscal year 2010.

The money made available under the re-appropriation comes from a two-year $350 million construction bill that was created last year, according to House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood. The re-appropriation bill takes  money that has yet to be appropriated from many bills and combines them into a single piece of legislation.

"It's been an 8-year battle," Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said of funding the new center. "Now we're back in the game."

Icet said the amount of funding for the project would come from federal recovery stimulus funds.

Allocating the funds for the center has been a long struggle, he said, adding that he believes the project has a tremendous amount of merit.

Total construction costs for the project will be about$52 million, according to center spokeswoman Mary Jenkins. Of that money, $21 million needed to build the new center comes from University Hospital operating revenue.

The funding would entail the construction of a 100,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the MU's University Hospital.

Jenkins said that without enough space and technology to support the doctors, nurses, new technology and the increasing number of cancer patients in Missouri, the center will fall behind in cancer treatment and research.

Cancer is Missouri's second leading cause of death, Jenkins said. The state has nearly 12,000 cancer patients, she said, and the number of cancer patients in 2009 increased by 1,100, or 10 percent, from 2008.

"The center plays a critical role in cancer treatment and cancer research," Jenkins said. "We have world-class cancer physicians; we just need a world-class facility for them to work."

The project would provide Missouri, and especially Columbia, with a slew of jobs, Icet said. He said it's too early to predict how many jobs could be created from the Ellis Fischel construction project, but he estimated many jobs for carpenters, plumbers and other craftsmen needed for the construction.

"The safe bet is hundreds and hundreds of jobs," Icet said.

Though the proposal to fund the new center could pass the General Assembly as it did the year before, the $31 million would still have to survive Nixon's veto or a decision to withhold the funds later in the year.

Icet said he believes the governor understands the priority of improving the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center but has to juggle between funding other projects.

 


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