Ellis Fischel not funded final budget, again

Plan for the new Ellis Fischel Center

The Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital project in Columbia simply may have been born under the wrong star.

It's been in and out of the state budget so many times, most people have lost count.

This year's final budget bill, the one that green lights the money for building projects, went to the governor's desk Thursday without funds for Ellis Fischel.

Discussed throughout the years of the Matt Blunt administration, the $31 million a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center finally got signed into law in 2008.

"Ellis Fischel will be able to expand services and improve care for cancer patients across the state, University of Missouri President Gary Forsee said.

Then the economy tanked and the project was held up.

During the debate over the use of federal stimulus dollars, the hospital gained new life, only to see Gov. Jay Nixon hold it back.

This year, the Missouri House once again approved the $31 million appropriation. Last week, the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee took it out, leaving Columbia lawmakers exasperated.

"There comes a time when it's appropriate to fold your tent. The fact of the matter is it's just not gonna happen in the senate, Rep. Chris Kelly, (D) Columbia said.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer fought to keep the project in the re-appropriation bill, but said that may not have been necessary. Last year, the stimulus money was split into two bills. House bill 22, the one with the Ellis Fischel project, had two-year authorization.

"It really doesn't change anything, Kurt Schaefer, (R) Columbia said. We gave the governor the money and the authority in House Bill 22. He continues to have that this year. And he will have it next year, as he would if it stayed in House Bill 2016 but he's choosing not to release it.

Nixon administration spokesman Jack Cardetti said, while there might be authorization, there is no money for Ellis Fischel.

Cardetti noted that Nixon has been forced to cut more than $900 million in spending to balance the books.