Archive for Thursday, April 25, 2013

Legislators question paying more for NBAF

April 25, 2013


— In past years, elected officials in Kansas have been nearly unanimous in support of the proposed $1.15 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to be located near Kansas State University in Manhattan.

No longer.

On Thursday, several members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee voiced concerns about the cost and safety of NBAF, a federal biosecurity lab that will conduct research on deadly animal diseases and develop measures to protect the nation's food supply.

Their questions are coming as the federal government seeks a much larger commitment from the state for funds to help build the project.

President Barack Obama has proposed $714 million in federal funds in his budget for construction of NBAF. But the state is being asked to come up with $307 million, which is $202 million more than what Kansas already has approved.

Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed that the state borrow $202 million in bonds to provide the additional funding.

Brownback's chief of staff, Landon Fulmer, urged Ways and Means to approve the deal, but he got pushback from several Republican senators. The committee took no action.

State Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said he was concerned about the risk of a pathogen release. "What if?," Abrams asked. "We're in the middle of cattle country. This whole thing just really concerns me greatly," he said.

Fulmer said the proposed facility would be able to withstand a truck bomb or F5 tornado. He said it would be more dangerous not to have the facility to protect the nation's food supply.

Other senators said they were concerned about the escalating cost of the project, which originally was estimated at $450 million, and whether the state could be forced to pay more for the project because of federal government budget problems.

State Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said under the original proposal the state was responsible for land acquisition. "Now, we're engaged in building the darn thing," he said. He said he feared "Kansas would be on the hook for significant" expenses as the federal government grapples with budget problems.

And without resolution of the state budget and proposed tax cuts, Denning said to Fulmer, "You're asking us to do something really risky."

Retiring the bonds will cost the state approximately $15 million per year, Fulmer said.

Sen. Jeff Melcher, R-Leawood, said the increased cost of NBAF "makes me extremely nervous."

And Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-Leavenworth, said that while the increase in state bonding represented a proportional increase related to the escalating cost of the project, it had a much greater impact on the state budget than the much larger federal budget.

"Can't we get a better deal?" Fitzgerald asked.


question4u 4 years, 12 months ago

Well, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, you let the dogs loose, and you can't complain when they threaten to bite you.

Your flunkies in the Legislature can only comprehend so much. If you tell them that investment in education is bad even when there's an obvious and measurable return on the investment, you can't expect them to think that investment in the NBAF is good just because you argue that there's an obvious and quantifiable return on the investment. They may not be very smart, but at least in this case they're not hypocrites.

greatgatsby 4 years, 12 months ago

I wonder how many of those against NBAF really know much about it. This place is built to the same standards as the CDC (Bio-Security Level 4 (the highest security level)) and the CDC is in the middle of Atlanta and is one of only 2 places in the world that holds smallpox yet there's been no outbreak or anything. It's gonna have negative pressure throughout the building meaning that when a door opens air always comes in, not out. It's gonna be outfitted with about 6000 HEPA filters which will release cleaner air than it took in. If people are worried about terrorism they've taken those measures as well. All storm and sewer drains going into and out of the site are barred, it's a fenced site, security, ect.
Manhattan was picked for a couple reasons: "1. The site will be adjacent to KSU providing a broad-base expertise in livestock-focused animal health and food security as well as it's ties to the Bio-security Research Institute. 2. Manhattan is in the Animal Health Corridor, a veterinary pharmaceutical hub." This is something that will be good for Kansas.

Jonathan Becker 4 years, 12 months ago

To Steve Abrams: What if . . . . a Republican legislator from Arkansas City developed a brain? . . . Naw, that won't happen. It is more likely NBAF would have a pathogen release than an Republican legislator from Arkansas City would develop a brain.

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 12 months ago

State revenue dropping by $1 billion over two years The state’s new revenue estimates released last week show the stark budget challenge facing the state – how to cover the loss of nearly $1 billion of revenue over two years, mostly due to the tax cuts signed by Gov. Sam Brownback and the scheduled reduction in the statewide sales-tax rate. Actual revenue receipts in fiscal year 2012 were $6.4 billion. The new revenue estimate for next fiscal year is $5.45 billion.

That drop is considerably more than what occurred during the Great Recession, when revenue dropped by $618 million over a three-year period, according to former state budget director Duane Goossen. Federal stimulus money helped offset a significant amount of that drop. Another big difference between then and now: The previous budget problems were triggered by a global economic crisis that was beyond our control; the current shortfall is self-inflicted.

Read more here:

Larry Sturm 4 years, 12 months ago

Thats right run off the few jobs that are coming to Kansas.

avarom 4 years, 12 months ago

Well.........there is a positive......this might save electricity....... after all the experimentation...... Kansas won't require lighting..........since you all will be glowing in the Dark!!

Gina Becker 4 years, 12 months ago

We should quit chasing after "easy" federal dollars and concentrate on building an environment in which free enterprise can flourish. These things never work out well in the long run.

We should run while we can. If we ever build this thing it will cost us forever. It's a Trojan horse.

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