Nixon wants $10m to renovate St. Mary's for LU nursing program

Governor Nixon wants $10 million to renovate the old St. Mary's Hospital site for use as classrooms for Lincoln University.

Governor Jay Nixon will ask lawmakers to commit $10 million to purchase and renovate the old St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City.

The plan is to use the facility for classes at Lincoln University, once St. Mary's moves to its new facility off Highway 179.

Under negotiation for a couple of years, Nixon says the project will allow Lincoln to expand its nursing and culinary arts programs.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for the state and for Lincoln University," Nixon told a gathering on the LU campus.

Lincoln now offers a two-year associates degree in nursing, but will expand that next year to a four-year bachelor's degree.

Right now, the hospital environment is simulated in a classroom building on campus.

Program administrators say the use of a real hospital will mean better training.

"This is a vision we were all planning on, and they were all moving forward together," said Lincoln University nursing director Connie Hamacher. "It's interesting that, finally, it's all coming together this Fall."

The governor said earlier he would recommend a $36 million increase for all of Missouri's public universities and colleges for the fiscal year that begins July 1st, 2014.

In exchange, he wants all four-year institutions, including Lincoln, to freeze undergraduate tuition for the next academic year.

What could cause problems for the hospital plan is the lack of agreement between the governor and the leaders of the Republican majority in the legislature over how much money the state will have.

Right now, they are more than $100 million apart.

If the legislature looks to cut the governor's new spending to balance the books, the St. Mary's project might be in trouble.

Governor Nixon will make his annual state-of-the-state and budget address Tuesday (1/21) evening.