Legislature approves Building a Healthier Nebraska projects

The Nebraska Legislature on March 27 approved the state’s budget bills on final reading by a vote of 45-2-2. The budget package includes substantial support for three of the four projects that comprised the University of Nebraska’s Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative:

• $50 million for a cancer research tower at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, part of a larger cancer center project that will position UNMC to earn prestigious Comprehensive Cancer Center designation;
• $15 million for a building addition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to house an expanded UNMC College of Nursing Kearney division and a new UNK-based UNMC School of Allied Health Professions; and
• A commitment to pay the debt service on a $50 million bond for a new Veterinary Diagnostic Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Each of the projects also requires a commitment of private or other funds. The fourth component of Building a Healthier Nebraska, a new College of Nursing Lincoln facility, was not identified for funding. The budget now will be delivered to Gov. Dave Heineman for his consideration.

NU President James B. Milliken said: “I am very pleased that the state budget package approved by the Legislature today includes an important investment in Building a Healthier Nebraska. The Legislature has approved a compelling set of projects that meets critical workforce needs, creates thousands of well-paying jobs, improves health care and expands educational opportunities for young people in our state. Clearly this is a strategy that has resonated with the Legislature – as it has with the numerous individuals and groups across the state who have endorsed the initiative.

“I want to thank the members of the Legislature for their far-sighted investment, which will be leveraged with hundreds of millions of dollars in private support to create an exciting public-private partnership that serves Nebraskans. State senators have worked diligently to craft a budget that addresses Nebraska's priorities and they deserve our gratitude. I want to especially recognize the hard work of Chairman Heidemann and the members of the Appropriations Committee and the key sponsors and supporters of the university capital projects. I know that Governor Heineman recognizes the tremendous value of this initiative and I am confident that his support will give us positive momentum as we raise private dollars to advance the projects.”

An economic impact analysis estimated that Building a Healthier Nebraska will ultimately support 4,700 jobs annually and have an economic impact of nearly $550 million per year.