Federal officials say they have rebuffed an effort by Texas to increase incentives to lure a biosecurity lab that is also sought by Kansas.
On Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he wanted to raise Texas' bid by $56 million from $44 million to $100 million to bring the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to San Antonio.
News of the move sparked criticism from Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the state's congressional delegation. They noted the deadline for potential NBAF sites to provide cost-share plans to the Department of Homeland Security was March 31.
"In keeping with DHS' own deadline requirements, this revised offer by Texas should be rejected and not considered in the site selection," Sebelius said. Earlier this year, Kansas committed $105 million to lure NBAF to the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan.
A letter signed by the Kansas congressional delegation and delivered to DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Jay Cohen covered the same ground that Sebelius did.
"We also respectfully remind you that you personally assured us that March 31 was a hard deadline and proposals submitted then would be considered the best and final offers for each site," the letter said.
On Friday, Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for DHS, said that Cohen had spoken to Gov. Perry and informed him that in fairness to the other potential sites, the only incentives that would be considered would be those made before the deadline.
The dispute came as DHS prepares to pick by the end of the year a location for the $451 million lab that will study the world's most dangerous diseases.
NBAF will replace an existing lab on Plum Island, N.Y. The facility could be built on the island, but in addition to Manhattan and San Antonio, other possible sites include Flora, Miss.; Athens, Ga.; and Butner, N.C.
Earlier this year, DHS had asked finalist sites to commit to paying for a utility plant for the lab and other improvements.
Kansas lawmakers quickly approved a measure to issue $105 million in bonds if the state is selected for the facility.
"There's no doubt Kansas provides DHS and the nation the most flexible, cost-effective and sensible pathway to getting the NBAF's important work under way - and we look forward to producing great results," Sebelius said.
Texas officials had earlier offered about $44 million in incentives, but, according to news reports, Perry said he would seek another $56 million from the Texas Legislature when it meets in January.
Perry and San Antonio officials said the incentive was needed to keep the city competitive, The Associated Press reported.
"In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to do this," Perry said, but "if it will bring jobs and wealth to Texas, it's appropriate for us to do that."
San Antonio saw telecommunications giant AT&T Inc. relocate its headquarters to Dallas earlier this year, and Toyota Motor Corp. idled its Tundra truck plant because of poor sales. So officials are eager to land the lab.
To decide which site will work best, DHS will consider the land, construction costs, proximity to an available work force, community said DHS spokeswoman Kudwa.
Later this month, Sebelius will be leading a group of Kansas officials to Washington, D.C., for a follow-up meeting on the state's NBAF proposal.