Plans to expand the University of Connecticut medical school and hospital moved forward Saturday when the House approved the $362 million plan with a 109 to 34 vote.
The new hospital and expanded partnership with five area hospitals boasts increased classroom and lab space for both medical and dental students and a new state-of-the-art cancer center.
Rep. Roberta Willis, co-chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee, said the state’s commitment is contingent on receiving the $100 million competitive federal grant, which was included in the national health care reform bill.
“The intent here is if the $100 million did not come through that the University of Connecticut would have the ability to try to go out and raise the money,“ Willis said.
In addition to the federal grant the bill authorizes $25 million in UConn 21st Century funding; and $237 million in state bonding for the project.
According to the fiscal note, “$100 million in federal, private or other non-state funding” has to be secured before the project moves forward.
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney said he’s concerned that the state will spend $25 million on the planning and design before it knows whether the $100 million in federal funds have been leveraged. “It’s naïve to think the state would spend $25 million and let the health center project stop,” McKinney said.
He said the bill should include language to say if we don’t get the $100 million from the federal government we’ll take it from the UConn 21st Century bonds.
The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.