McConnell: Senate Approves Kentucky Priorities in Funding Bill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

McConnell: Senate Approves Kentucky Priorities in Latest Funding Bill

McConnell:  Senate Approves Kentucky Priorities in Latest Funding Bill
Measure also contains McConnell's provision to name VA Medical Center after Robley Rex

 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced Sunday that he was successful in securing over $48 million in funding for Kentucky priorities in this year's Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  The legislation, which passed the Senate today, now goes to the President for his signature.

The measure contains several important Kentucky projects that McConnell secured, which will help with public safety and spur economic growth, including: more than $20 million for Kentucky's military interests; more than $6 million for transportation and economic development projects; $650,000 for law enforcement equipment across the state; and more than $20 million for Kentucky's universities.

"Whether it's for education, economic development or supporting our men and women in uniform, I will continue to use my seniority in the United States Senate to help secure funding on behalf of Kentucky's priorities," said McConnell.

The bill also includes McConnell's provision to name the current and future VA hospital in Louisville after Kentucky's last World War I-era veteran, Robley Rex.  "I am glad to see that Congress has agreed with my recommendation of naming the Louisville VA medical center after Robley Rex.  It is only appropriate that his name forever mark the entrance of the VA Medical Center," McConnell said.

The following programs were included in the bill at the request of Senator McConnell:

UNIVERSITIES ($20.5 million)

  • $200,000 for the University of Kentucky's Firefighter Gear Safety Research project.  UK will research the performance of firefighter turnout gear to reduce safety risks and potential health risks of first responders by evaluating how the protective levels deteriorate over time – ensuring that firefighters and emergency workers are wearing the safest gear available.
  • $2 million for the UK "Heart Health" Community Health Management Program, and to expand UK's Centers for Rural Health at Hazard, Morehead, Madisonville, and Murray.
  • $2 million for the UK Biomedical Informatics Core Project to develop a data warehouse critical to expanding research, and helping community hospitals throughout the state.
  • $1.3 million for UK to expand the College of Nursing facility, allowing UK to better respond to the nursing shortage by increasing the undergraduate nursing program with renovated facilities.  
  • $1 million for UK to support the Academy for Community Transportation Innovation, which will educate new transportation planners and engineers in ways to achieve safe, environmentally sound and sustainable transportation projects.
  • $2 million for the University of Louisville Diagnosing and Mitigating Human Exposure to Radiation project to provide UofL with the ability to conduct cutting-edge diagnostic research in conjunction with the Johnson Space Center to detect and alleviate human radiation exposure.  UofL will work to develop a diagnostic system to identify when individuals have been exposed to enough radiation to cause cellular damage.  This system can be applied to detect and mitigate the damage of compromised health of astronauts in space, operators at nuclear facilities, and enable first responders to indentify exposure in the event of a radiological attack. 
  • $2.5 million for UofL to purchase medical equipment for the In-Vivo Molecular Imaging Project.  This will enable researchers to gather information non-invasively in humans, which will help solve biological and medical problems and improve our knowledge of diseases.
  • $1 million to assist the UofL Center for Liver Cancer in developing a liver cancer research center, investigating new surgical approaches, drug therapies and diagnostic and prevention strategies for liver cancer.
  • $1 million for the UofL Cardiovascular and Regenerative Medicine Project to purchase equipment that will help researchers conduct cutting-edge, first-in-human research studies in the use of cell-based therapies for heart disease
  • $800,000 for the UofL Improving Nursing Care Program to train and educate nursing faculty, students and registered nurses to better understand and use clinical informatics and to incorporate electronic health records in the delivery of care.
  • $1.1 million for Western Kentucky University's Center for Research and Development, which will work with Bowling Green Municipal Utilities to provide a secure fiber optic network for data-based business and research enterprises, which will attract new companies and jobs to the area.
  • $2 million to complete the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the Ogden College of Science and Engineering Facility.  This amount will complete the three year project and will give students at WKU the tools necessary to compete in high-demand science and engineering industries.
  • $1.2 million for WKU to expand campus transportation into the community and to make their vehicles more energy efficient.
  • $2.4 million for Northern Kentucky University to purchase technology and equipment to enhance the College of Informatics. NKU is continuing its important work preparing students for in-demand information-technology related careers.

MILITARY INSTALLATIONS/VETERANS ($20.3 million)

  • $5 million in additional funds for the Blue Grass Army Depot. This brings the total FY 2010 funding level for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program to $550 million, which is the highest level of funding to date.  "For years, the people of Madison County have lived near stockpiles of dangerous chemical weapons – and these weapons are a major threat to the community. The additional funds support the higher budget level Secretary Gates approved at my urging earlier this year," McConnell said.
  • $14.4 million for the Installation Chapel Center at Fort Campbell.  "The soldiers and families at Fort Campbell make huge sacrifices every day," McConnell said. "This new chapel will help to ensure that more of their needs are met, giving them a gathering space for spiritual and community events."
  • $900,000 for a facility to help with the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers and combat fitness of troops.  "This funding will be used to design a state-of-the-art facility for the rehabilitation of wounded warriors and the physical fitness of troops at the installation," McConnell said.
  • McConnell provision to name the current and future VA hospital in Louisville after Kentucky's last World War I-era veteran, Robley Rex.  McConnell had offered an amendment to the original Senate version of the bill which passed unanimously.  Since the House bill did not contain a similar provision, McConnell successfully urged the conference committee to approve his version.

LAW ENFORCEMENT ($650,000)

  • $160,000 for the Grayson County Sheriff's Department.  "The Grayson County Sheriff's deputies are in need of mobile data terminals and hand-held portable radios to communicate effectively across the county.  These funds will support these local law enforcement officers with more current technology which will help them better protect the people of Grayson County," said McConnell.
  • $340,000 for the Boone County Sheriff's Department.  "The Boone County Sheriff's deputies strive to provide first-rate response services to their residents, but their efforts are compromised by a lack of modern equipment, specifically dashboard cameras for patrol vehicles.  This request will fund new technology, allowing the deputies to continue to safely serve the people of Boone County," said McConnell.
  • $100,000 for the Calloway County Sheriff's Department.  "The Calloway County Sheriff's deputies are in need of upgraded equipment to safely and efficiently carry out their duties.  Specifically, deputies are in need of investigative equipment, dispatch technology, and personal patrol safety gear, which will help keep them safe while on the job," said McConnell.
  • $50,000 for the Todd County Sheriff's Department.  "The Todd County Sheriff's deputies currently do not have the technology or equipment to communicate effectively across the county.  Funds are needed for the Sheriff's office to purchase up-to-date, reliable computer and digital radio equipment to help deputies provide more efficient services in Todd County," said McConnell.

TRANSPORTATION/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ($6.6 million)

  • $4 million for the Hopkinsville-Christian County Industrial Mega Site, which will provide economic development funds to enhance the site with a natural gas line to attract industry and jobs.  The money is needed for improvements at the 2,100 acre Hopkinsville-Christian County Industrial Mega Site, which is expected to help attract future manufacturing plants and industry. 
  • $1.85 million for the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) to help make their fleet of vehicles safer and more energy efficient.
  • $750,000 for the Louisville International Airport to construct a necessary taxiway in order to accommodate larger Group VI aircraft.  According to local officials, by expanding the airport taxiway, the airport will be able to accommodate current growth and take advantage of any new opportunities that will retain and attract aviation-related companies and jobs to the Louisville community.

This legislation combines six of the 12 annual appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government for the 2010 fiscal year, which began on September 30, 2009.  Specifically, this bill combines funds for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Labor, State, and Housing and Urban Development.  Having passed both chambers of Congress, it will be sent to the President for his signature.

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