JEFFERSON CITY — The head of the Senate Appropriations Committee is recommending an additional several million dollars for the proposed budget for a major medical research complex at MU.
On Tuesday, Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, recommended giving the University of Missouri System $10 million for its Translational Precision Medicine Complex. That’s $7 million more than the amount the House Budget Committee recently approved in its version of the budget for fiscal year 2020.
The proposed $220.8 million complex would provide new facilities and technology for MU’s cancer, vascular and neurological research, according to previous Missourian reporting. The complex is set to open in October 2021.
As of February, the UM System already secured $100 million of funding, including one-time funding of $50 million from the system itself and another $50 million from MU.
Gov. Mike Parson recommended giving $1 million to fund the program in his proposed budget. The House Budget Committee raised the allocated amount for the complex to $3 million.
The program could be a big revenue generator and attract doctors and patients with its cutting-edge technology, which requires a sizable investment from the state, according to Hegeman’s legislative staff.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said the increase is significant and would be helpful for the project.
“We still understand there could be some questions for us, and we’re definitely ready and willing to answer any questions that legislators … have about the project, especially in relation to how this could impact the state,” Basi said.
Hegeman recommended an overall increase in state university core funding at the hearing, proposing an additional $10 million in one-time funding for Missouri State University and a $1 million core funding increase for every other university. The idea is to promote equity among all four-year institutions, Hegeman said.
The proposal sparked strong criticism from Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who wanted to add another $2 million to the core funding for Harris-Stowe State University. She said part of that could come from $1 million in deferred maintenance funding that the House recommended.
Harris-Stowe State University, the only historically black college in Missouri “that lies within the urban corridors,” currently receives the lowest amount of funding among all universities in the state, Nasheed said.
The House proposed to give $9.7 million to Harris-Stowe State University’s core funding in fiscal year 2020. Lincoln University, another historically black university, would receive the second-lowest amount of funding among all — $16.8 million.
Harris-Stowe State University is having a hard time hiring full-time teachers, Nasheed said, because the funding is far from sufficient. In turn, she said, it’s hard for the school to meet performance standards.
Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, suggested looking at the funding per student at each university. Harris-Stowe State University has about 1,500 students with a per student funding at $6,400, Hough said.
Missouri State University has the lowest per student funding level at around $4,300, Hough said, and giving it $10 million would help bridge the gap, Hough said.
Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, agreed with Nasheed that the total amount of funding matters. She said with less total funding, the basic cost of school infrastructure takes up a larger portion.
Nasheed said Harris-Stowe State University and Lincoln University are being treated unfairly.
“That’s the problem that I have been having,” Nasheed said. “At some point, it’s borderline racism.”
Natasha Vyhovsky contributed to this report.