Arts Campus in Kansas City back on legislative agenda

9 months 3 days 18 hours ago Sunday, March 11 2018 Mar 11, 2018 Sunday, March 11, 2018 3:52:42 PM CDT March 11, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — State funding for a portion of a proposed arts campus in downtown Kansas City is back on the legislative agenda, a year after Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a similar plan.

Missouri Rep. Noel Shull, a Republican from Kansas City, reintroduced a bill that would fund half the cost of building and furnishing a $96 million downtown Conservatory of Music and Dance near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The new bill is similar to one approved last session by the Missouri Legislature but vetoed by Greitens, The Kansas City Star reported.

"I went ahead and reintroduced it because my sense is that there is still a lot of interest in allowing the downtown conservatory to move forward as planned," Shull said.

The former plan would require the state to issue up to $48 million in bonds in a 50-50 match program for capital projects at Missouri-Kansas City. The university had already raised $48 million and was waiting for the state match when Greitens vetoed the plan. The governor said the plan "would put taxpayers on the hook for over $75 million to build and run a conservatory for dancers and art students." He said the university should raise private funds and make difficult budget decisions to fund the project.

Supporters feared the veto would jeopardize millions in private pledges but University of Missouri System officials vowed to find the money without the state's help. They contend the downtown conservatory would boost cultural and economic development in Kansas City.

In January, The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation dealt a blow to the project when it withdrew its $20 million pledge.

University system officials said it was too early to discuss the new legislation. "But it does demonstrate the support received from the legislature and the value that higher education brings to the state," said university spokesman Christian Basi.

Missouri-Kansas City officials expressed gratitude to the legislature for supporting the proposal.

"We are continuing to explore the array of options for a new facility that serve the critical academic and research needs of our students and faculty," university officials said in a statement.

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