The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a bill Wednesday that authorizes an additional $202 million in bonds for a national bio-defense lab, but only after adding limits designed to address concerns by conservative Republicans.
Kansas has authorized $105 million in bonds for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility at Kansas State University. Gov. Brownback and his aides have noted that in 2009,l Kansas agreed to pick up part of the cost as it and multiple states competed for the project.
The lab is expected to bring more than 300 high-paying jobs to the state. The new lab will research dangerous animal diseases and ways of protecting the nation's food supply, replacing an aging facility on Plum Island, N.Y. Brownback said the new bonds are necessary to fulfill the state's promise to cover part of the construction costs.
However, some conservative GOP senators questioned authorizing new bonds. The Kansas Senate committee added a provision to the bill saying state officials can't approve the new bonds until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has signed its contract with the construction company that will build the lab. Also, the federal government would be on the hook for construction cost overruns.