LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Legislative leaders and Gov. Sam Brownback have agreed to authorize an additional $231 million in bonds to help finance the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility under construction near Manhattan, contingent on the federal government agreeing the state won’t have to pay any more for the project.
The additional bonds will bring the state’s total investment in the estimated $1.15 billion NABF project to $307 million, or 25 percent of the total cost, whichever is lower, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
Before the state provides the funds, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must sign a letter agreeing that Kansas won’t be asked to pay more and that the federal government will fund any future cost increases, the State Finance Council said Tuesday.
The new laboratory, expected to be fully operational by 2022, will be used to research dangerous animal-borne diseases. It will replace an aging research facility at Plum Island, New York, which Homeland Security intends to sell.
The Kansas Legislature initially authorized $105 million in bonds when the state was awarded the project in 2009, but so far has issued only about $75 million in bonds that were used to build a power plant to serve the new lab.
The State Finance Council, which has the authority to make financial decisions for Kansas when the Legislature is not in session, in November balked at authorizing additional bonds until Congress appropriates money funding for its share of the project.
Congress in December approved a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security only through March, but it included $400 million to pay the remaining federal share of the cost of the facility.
“We’re going to put these extra funds in,” Brownback said Tuesday. “We didn’t want to. We didn’t want the project to cost more, but we’re going to put the extra funds in. But we want to make sure this is it.”
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