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House Panel Approves University Of Kentucky Research Center Funding

Josh James

University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto testified in Frankfort Tuesday in support of a plan to fund a new $265 million dollar cancer research facility at UK. The bill received the overwhelming support of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee but is likely to face closer scrutiny as it heads to the House.

Despite reservations about reopening the state’s spending plan in a non-budget year, lawmakers elected to place the matter before the full chamber. Ultimately, UK wants the state to fund half of the project. Capilouto argues the request would save lives.

"There are too many preventable deaths every day in Kentucky. Annually, it amounts to hundreds, perhaps thousands. That's unacceptable to us. We want to make a difference," he says.

While everyone on the panel strongly supported the university’s efforts to find treatments for cancer, heart disease, and other big killers in Kentucky, granting the request would be a departure for the legislature currently not in budget mode. And it’s that exception that worries Louisville Rep. Jim Wayne.

"What this does is send a message to all the other universities that one year from now, they can come back when we have a short, non-budget session and compete for money the way you're doing today. So I think this is a bad precedent," Wayne says.

Funding the center would require 60 percent support in both houses.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.