Gov. Dave Heineman today signed the mid-biennium budget bills, LB 968, LB 969 and LB 131, into law. The Governor highlighted his support of funding for University of Nebraska projects throughout the state.
In the following statement, Gov. Heineman outlines the $71 million state investment in three projects important to Nebraska's future successes in education and job creation:
"Today, I signed into law the budget bills, and I want to emphasize my support for University of Nebraska proposals. When the University first announced its program, the Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative, I appreciated the potential of the project, but I was concerned about the timing, the use of the cash reserve and that my highest priority was tax relief for Nebraskans. I indicated that the use of the cash reserve should be tied to measurable university fundraising milestones.
"Since my initial comments, I have had several conversations with University officials, including President Milliken, and many conversations with members of the Legislature. Additionally, Nebraska's economy is experiencing steady growth and Nebraska's unemployment rate is now 4.0%. Furthermore, the Appropriations Committee changes to the University's proposal, including fund raising milestones, have made this a better initiative. Therefore, I have decided that we need to continue to boldly invest in Nebraska's future. Last year, we invested $25 million in Innovation Campus and we passed the Talent and Innovation Initiative.
"Now, we need to invest in the UNMC cancer research center because it will create 1,200 high-paying, high-quality jobs and further cancer research. Second, we need to invest in a new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln because agriculture is the number one industry in our state and this facility is important to the future success of agriculture, especially the livestock industry. Finally, we need to invest in a new nursing and allied health professions college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Currently, we have a shortage of nurses and health professionals, particularly in rural Nebraska. The nursing college at Kearney is vital to solving this issue because when our future health care professionals are educated in rural Nebraska, they are more likely to stay in rural Nebraska.
"As Governor, I am focused on two key priorities -- education and jobs. In order to continue to be successful, we must continue to invest in these two key priorities. These University projects will help retain and recruit young people and middle class families to our state as we continue our efforts to make Nebraska the best place to live, to work and to raise a family."
The University of Nebraska Medical Center cancer research tower will receive a $50 million transfer from cash reserve fund in FY 2012-13, provided $60 million is met in private funding. The University of Nebraska-Kearney's College of Nursing and Allied Health will receive a $15 million transfer from cash reserve fund in FY 2012-13, provided $3 million is met in private funding. The Veterinary Diagnostic Center at University of Nebraska-Lincoln will receive a general fund appropriation of approximately $6.1 million in FY 2012-13, provided $5 million is met in private funding.