Proposals address state's challengesFour proposed university projects have the potential to grow Nebraska's economy, meet workforce needs and improve the health and well-being of people across the state.
On Thursday, UNMC leaders and students were among those who testified before lawmakers in support of the bills that collectively make up the University of Nebraska's "Building a Healthier Nebraska" initiative.
"This is an exciting initiative that holds tremendous promise for Nebraska - contributing both to a healthier economy in our state, and to the health and well-being of all Nebraskans," NU President J.B. Milliken told members of the Appropriations Committee.
"The University of Nebraska has both the opportunity and the obligation to work with our elected public officials to address challenges that have an impact on the health and quality of life of our citizens."
The projects, and their legislative bill numbers, are:
- LB 1055 -- Construction of an expanded facility for health science education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney that would house nursing and an expansion of allied health programs;
- LB 1065 -- Construction of a new facility for the UNMC College of Nursing-Lincoln Division;
- LB 1066 -- Construction of a new veterinary diagnostic center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and
- LB 1089 -- Construction of a research tower that will be part of a proposed comprehensive cancer center on the UNMC campus in Omaha.
"We will continue to explain how important these projects are to all Nebraskans," said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D.
The university requests $91 million from the state's cash reserve to support the capital projects. The Appropriations Committee will continue deliberations to determine the level of funding it will propose to the full legislature for debate.
On Thursday, supporters explained how:
- The state's nursing shortage is predicted to reach 3,800 by 2020.
- Demand for allied health professionals such as physician assistants and physical therapists is expected to grow significantly, particularly with the state's aging population.
- Cutting-edge cancer research is critical as cancer impacts one in two Nebraskans in their lifetime.
Employees and students may inform state senators of their support but must contact them on their own time and without using university resources (computers, telephones, letterhead or university accounts).