Topeka Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told legislators that the KU Medical Center needs a new $75 million health education building to train more physicians and maintain accreditation.
"The state has a doctor shortage, and the University of Kansas is the only institution in the state that can address the doctor shortage," Gray-Little said.
Nationally, Kansas ranks 39th in doctors per capita, she said.
The current facilities to train doctors are out of date and can't be retro-fitted, Gray-Little told the House-Senate State Building Construction Committee.
"Our Kansas facilities are at capacity, but they are also antiquated and considered entirely unsuited for a modern medical curriculum," she said. "Our facilities just don't fit the way that medical education is delivered now."
Committee chairwoman state Sen. Kay Wolf, R-Prairie Village, asked, "It is an accreditation issue, is it not?"
Gray-Little replied that it was. "It is a question of the quality of what we are able to offer," she said.
Of the $75 million cost, KU has authority to issue bonds for $35 million.
Of that amount, KU wants the state to pay $15 million through a multiple-year appropriation of $1.4 million per year. The committee recommended approval of the $1.4 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
KU is also requesting $25 million from a FICA refund. The refund stems from a long-running dispute dealing with Social Security and Medicare withheld from paychecks of former medical residents. The remaining cost of the building would be funded through private funds and gifts.
Gray-Little said if all the pieces were approved by the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback, KU could start construction within a year and have the facility opened in time for the 2017 school year.