Brownback scrambling to regroup after 2013 federal budget revealed

Sam Brownback

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the state’s legislative leaders are attempting to regroup after the recently released 2013 federal budget failed to include funding for the construction of a new biosecurity lab.

President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget proposal allocated no new money for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, which would be located in Manhattan, Kansas, near the campus of Kansas State University. The budget instead recommends requiring the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reassess the project in full, including the consideration of alternatives, according to the Kansas City Star.

The budget news is a setback for those who have viewed the $650 million project as a major portion of the state’s effort to become a world leader in animal health and related industries.

A new lab in Kansas would replace an existing facility located on Plum Island, New York. New York state politicians have been clamoring to keep the facility, arguing that a new lab is unneeded.

In Topeka, suggestions are being raised that the state increase funding efforts if the federal government is unwilling or unable to in the near future.

“It’s going to be a fight. That’s the nature of what it’s going to be,” Brownback said, the Kansas City Star reports. “I think we’re going to get this done. It’s going to be difficult as we work through the process. This is going to be an ongoing discussion, the top of everybody’s list for the state of Kansas.”

Brownback recently spoke with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in an attempt to gain assurances that the administration planned to continue the project and that the reassessment is financial in scope only.

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