Three Boone County legislators said they plan to work toward increasing the budget for MU’s NextGen Precision Health Initiative during the 18th Annual Legislative Forum on Higher Education on Thursday.

State Reps. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland; Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia; and Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said in their remarks that they would attempt to increase the program’s budget to $10 million from the $3 million in Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed 2021 budget. The project received $10 million in the current year’s state budget, and university officials have requested the same amount for next year.

Both Kendrick and Walsh are on the House budget committee, which will take Parson’s proposal as a starting point.

“We need to get to $10 million again,” Kendrick said. “It’s about supporting and pushing Missouri forward as a whole. It’s not about bringing the dollars to mid-Missouri, it’s about building the NextGen Precision Health Center to drive the economy to reach new heights with medical research.”

Walsh agreed.

“As a member of budget committee, I’m going to do what I can because this is a higher priority,” Walsh said.

Attendees traveled through the snow to get to Grand Cru Restaurant for the event, which was sponsored by the Boone County Chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association.

The UM System distributed a handout that states its aim for $10 million to be allocated for the NextGen program and that the program be included in MU’s core funds in the 2021 budget.

Both UM System President Mun Choi and MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright called the NextGen Precision Health Initiative a priority in their remarks at the event.

“This is right for Missouri,” Cartwright said. “This is right for our citizens. This is not just something that’s going to be a new building.”

Choi said that MU’s return on investment for projects such as the NextGen Precision Health Initiative ishigh.

“For every dollar that’s invested in the university, we turn that around and leverage it into $13 in economic impact,” Choi told the group. “There are very few universities in the country that could say that, but we do that right here. Mizzou alone generates $3.9 billion economic impact.”

Lawmakers will work on the budget for the next several months, with a deadline of passing it in early May.

  • Education reporter, spring 2020. Studying news reporting. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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