State lawmakers have approved the money the University of Nebraska says it needs to finance its Healthier Nebraska Initiative as well as money to pay for capital improvements at Chadron State and Peru State.
University of Nebraska president, J.B. Milliken, says the university will leverage the state funding to raise private funds to finance the $450 million initiative.
“This initiative will address cancer treatment and research in a major way, provide new nursing education and physician’s assistance and allied health education in central Nebraska and provide for a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for the state’s largest industry; the livestock industry,” Milliken tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
It took a while to get to this point. Gov. Dave Heineman first expressed reservations about whether the state could afford to provide the $91 million request from the University of Nebraska. Negotiations began and legislators settled on providing most, but not all, of the money.
The key project in the Healthier Nebraska Initiative is a $370 million cancer research and treatment center on the Omaha campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Plans call for building a 250,000 square foot cancer research tower with 98 new laboratories for cancer research. The tower itself is estimated to cost $110 million. The state would provide $50 million with the university committed to raising $60 million to complete the financing.
The legislature also approved $18 million for a health care program at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The money would pay for an expansion of Bruner Hall of Science on the UNK campus which would allow the Kearney campus to expand its nursing and allied health professions programs.
Nearly $7 million has been allocated to expand and renovate Armstrong Gymnasium at Chadron State College. The college has pledged to raise $2 million in private funding to complete the rehabilitation of the building constructed in 1964.
Lawmakers also allocated $7.5 million to renovate Oak Bowl at Peru State College. The legislature approved $5 million with no strings attached, but requires Peru State to raise $1.5 million in private funding to receive an additional $2.5 million in state funds.
The budget bills now go to Gov. Dave Heineman for his consideration.
KLIN contributed to this report.