Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says if Kansas lawmakers won't approve additional funds for the National Bio And Agro-Defense Facility, there's a chance it won't get built. And that's a risk he's not willing to take, he said over the weekend on a stop in Kansas City, Kansas.
President Obama's FY2014 budget requested $714 million for the top security animal disease lab proposed for Manhattan, Kansas. As part of that request, the state was asked to contribute $202 million. That's in addition to almost $150 million Kansas has already committed.
Some Republicans in Topeka suggest Governor Brownback’s request for an additional $202 million in bonds for the proposed animal disease lab represents a “moving target,” and want to be reassured the state isn’t going to be responsible for more than it can afford for a federal facility.
Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican and Vice President of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he was concerned the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility could be careening out of control financially. If the legislature grants the new request, Kansas will have committed almost $350 million to the federal lab.
“The cost of the project has gone from $500 million to over a billion dollars,” Denning said in an interview. “ The original project started out costing $1,000 per square foot and now already has increased to $2,000 a square foot.” Given today’s interest rates, Denning said a 20 or 25 year note would cost the state some $15 million annualy in debt service.
Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican from Mission Hills said she would like to see the Governor compromise on his income tax cuts.
“It’s intriguing to me that the Governor keeps wanting more money for more projects and yet he’s reducing our ability to bring in that revenue with his tax plan.”
Bollier said most legislators support the NBAF, and believe in it's job-creating and economic development potential. She has questions about the projected economic benefits of the Governor’s tax cuts.
Governor Brownback has said the income tax cuts would create a shortfall for a couple of years. That's why he's asking the legislature to extend the sales tax.
Senator Denning said the request was tabled in the Ways and Means Committee yesterday in an effort to give legislators more time to meet with the Governor and study the issue. He said it will be brought up again when the legislature returns May 8th