KU health building left out of budget proposal

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - University of Kansas leaders are vowing not to give up on a plan to build a new health education center for the university’s medical center, even though Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget does not include funding for the effort.

Brownback’s budget proposals for 2014 and 2015 were released to legislators Thursday and did include additional money for higher education. But the Republican governor didn’t add money for a new building at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Fred Logan tell the Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/LfDgsr ) that they will continue to seek state support for the $75 million building.

The building would allow expansion of the physician training program, as well as use of new technologies to prepare students and other health professionals.

“We have not given up,” Logan said. “If we don’t get it this session we’re going to get it the next session. It is something the state needs; it needs it very badly.”

The governor is proposing that legislators restore some $44 million in cuts made last year to higher education. For KU, the restorations include $2 million for a chemical biology research project and $70,000 to encourage primary care physicians to take up residency in rural Kansas communities.

Gray-Little issued a statement saying she was pleased with the fact Brownback also was reversing salary caps placed on higher education. She said the additional physicians for rural communities were “desperately” needed.

Tim Caboni, KU vice chancellor for public affairs, said other funding sources for the medical education building would be sought, but “for this to happen I think we need this to be a priority for the Legislature as well. The $2 million for the Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology will support existing laboratories that develop new technologies and drugs. Jeff Aubé, a professor of medicinal chemistry, said the funds would allow staff and infrastructure provided by grant money to become permanent additions.

“You have to find some way of keeping (labs) going. If not, you lose your competitive edge for future funding,” Aubé said.

The institute is designed to research health issues including tuberculosis, cancer, addiction and depression.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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