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Kansas House Committee Approves More NBAF Bonds

On Thursday, The House Appropriations Committee approved an amended version of Governor Brownback's proposal to issue more bonds for a federal lab.

Earlier, they'd delayed a decision on whether to approve an extra $200 million for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to be built in Manhattan, KS.

Some state lawmakers like Mark Hutton of Wichita, believe the deal between the federal and state government wasn't clearly defined.

"We have no memorandum of understanding, no contract, nothing with DHS that says 'Here's how this deal is structured.' I find that amazing."

The committee eventually approved the proposal, but not before adding language to keep bonds from being issued unless the federal government pays its share of the costs.

Wichita Representative Gene Suellentrop supported that move.

"We need to figure out their dollar amount--$700 million-plus. I think that's the amount that we do an agreement upon. If they match that, if we get to that level, then we're committed."

The lab will cost about $1.15 billion to build and will research deadly animal diseases. Though President Obama has reserved $714 million in his budget plan to build the lab, Congress may not approve it.

Kansas bid on the project because it promises to generate more than 300 high-paying jobs. The state has already issued over $100 million in bonds for the facility.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.