A mid-Missouri lawmaker plans to push for funding for a proposed Mizzou research center expansion.
State Rep. Chuck Basye (R-Rocheport) tells Missourinet he’ll advocate for a proposed $8 million expansion at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is leading the effort to obtain state funding for the expansion.
“And I think it’s very important to not only the community, but all of the great research they do there and life-saving medications and all that. I think it’s something we really need to try and find the money to get that to them,” Basye says.
The Columbia Chamber says the expansion would add additional training classrooms and labs, and would increase the number of workers available to support MURR’s ability to rapidly supply radiopharmaceutical companies and vendors. MURR, which opened in 1966, has about 200 full and part-time scientists and staff.
The Chamber also says an expansion would help to train more skilled workers and make Columbia an international hub for imaging and cancer drug production.
Basye was one of seven Missouri lawmakers who toured the facility with MURR officials, Columbia leaders and reporters on Tuesday.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) participated in that tour. Richardson also addressed Columbia Chamber members during a Tuesday luncheon at First State Community Bank. Missourinet asked Richardson about the funding request.
“It’s incredibly important that that reactor continue to operate. It’s something that I think is really a feather in the cap for the University, so we’re going to be ready to work with the University on how we continue to fund that. And we’ll have to see what the budget numbers look like, but it’s something I know we’re interested in partnering with them on,” Richardson says.
Incoming House Select Committee on Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) tells Missourinet 2017 will likely be a difficult budget year, making the Chamber’s request and others like it unlikely next year.
In addition to Richardson and Basye, the five other lawmakers who toured MURR Tuesday were State Senator-Elect Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), State Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) and three newly-elected State Representatives: Martha Stevens (D-Columbia), Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) and Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe).
The MURR website has a detailed summary of the project’s history. It notes that in 1959, Missouri Governor James Blair signed an appropriations bill to fund the project, and that the amount was later supplemented by the Legislature during the tenure of Governor John Dalton. The MURR website says state allocations were $3.4 million.
The facility is one of 25 University research reactors in the nation.