Topeka Legislative leaders Tuesday said Kansas taxpayers will have to pay up to $164 million to help the state lure a federal biosecurity lab.
"I can't emphasize enough how important this is," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.
The Legislature will consider a bond issue of $105 million to make infrastructure improvements for the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF.
Paid off over 20 years, the bonds would cost $164 million in principal, interest and fees, officials said.
Kansas is one of six states vying for the $451 million NBAF, which will be a U.S. Department of Homeland Security lab used to research plant, animal and human diseases. The focus of NBAF will be on combating potential bio-terrorist threats to the food supply.
Recently, Homeland Security estimated that Kansas' cost of land, roads, grading, parking security fencing and a dedicated central utility plant would total $105 million. The Kansas proposal is at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Tom Thornton, president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, said the state expense is well worth it because NBAF will create jobs and attract more investment. NBAF would have a $1.5 billion economic impact over 20 years, he said.
"This is a key moment," Thornton said.
Legislation allowing the bonds has been put on the fast track and is expected to be debated by the full Senate on Wednesday.
Homeland Security strongly encourages cost-sharing, Thornton said, and it wants Kansas' best and final offer by the end of March. The agency is scheduled to pick a location in October.
The other sites in contention are Athens, Ga.; San Antonio; Granville County, N.C.; Madison County, Miss.; and an existing lab at Plum Island, N.Y.