Legislators hesitant to approve more NBAF funds

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The days are dwindling for Kansas legislators and a looming budget decision is whether or not to approve more funding for the construction of the National Bio-Agro Defense facility in Manhattan.

The endeavor would study animal diseases and ways to protect the nation’s food supply and replace and aging facility in New York.

Some legislators are uneasy with Governor Sam Brownback’s call to put an extra $202 million toward the project.

Everyone wants NBAF and everyone seems willing to make it happen. The state legislature already approved $105 million of taxpayer money to construct it.

“I’m very supportive of the NBAF project and will continue to be, but there are just some questions that need to be answered,” says House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

Rep. Davis and fellow Democrats in the senate wonder why Governor Brownback wants another $202 million for the project.

“I’m not sure I understand the governor’s rationale for having this 200 million dollars in bonding for NBAF,” says Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley.

Hesitation – especially after President Obama set aside $714 million in the Federal budget for it.

“I didn’t know that there were any strings attached, that it was contingent upon state, putting more money into the whole NBAF project, I hadn’t heard that, I hadn’t seen that from the Obama administration,” Hensley says.

“The level of communication is not at the degree where it needs to be,” Davis adds.

Governor Brownback says the new bonds are necessary to fulfill the state’s promise to cover part of the construction costs.

One proposal, Senate Bill 245, would prohibit Kansas lawmakers from committing more money until the Federal Government signs a contract with a construction contractor.

Those with questions want a full discussion on the extra state funds.

“It’s an issue that I think we should definitely take up while we’re in session as opposed to deferring it to the finance council,” Hensley says.

The senate is expected to debate S.B. 245 sometime this week.

The $1.2 billion facility is expected to bring 300 jobs to the Manhattan area, each job averaging more than $75,000 in salary and benefits.

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