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Campus Updates Plan Announced

***UPDATE 4:10 P.M.***Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones and Representative Chris Kelly announced a proposal Wednesday to invest about $1billion in the future of the state.The money would fund university campus buildings, renovations for mental health facilities and other state needs. The state made a final payment in October on a previous $600 million bond issue, making money available for new payments.The specifics have not been worked out just yet, but most of the ideas focused on the needs of the University of Missouri System as well as transportation infrastructure needs across the state. Leaders who spoke to ABC 17 News say with the support this proposal already has, they hope it will be passed before the current session ends in May.Dan Mehan, the president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says the proposal has a figure close to $1 billion, however that figure is not final and could go up or down.Voters will not know what they will get from the bond proposal until all of the wrinkles are ironed out in legislation. However, Democrats and Republicans already showing support say the money will go a long way in meeting many of Missouri’s current needs.”We’re looking at massive infrastructure needs and massive transportation needs,” said Rep. Tim Jones.”A lot of roads and bridges,” added Mehan. “We can’t move ahead without a first-rate higher education system either.”With the state’s flagship university right here in Columbia, Rep. Chris Kelly says the Columbia community has a unique stake in the fight.”In terms of health and education, it’s a major server to the entire state,” said Rep. Kelly. “And Columbia is helped most when the entire economy is healthier.”Rep. Jones says many communities across Missouri stand to benefit from the proposal.”This will be an immediate job creator,” Jones said. “This will be an immediate spur to economic development all across the state.”Mehan cautioned that the hefty price tag could balloon even more and that realistically, the proposal’s budget cannot get too large. He says now is the time to act because the cost of money is at a historically low rate and moving forward now would put the state in a good position to pay off the bonds properly.***ORIGINAL STORY***JEFFERSON CITY (AP) – Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones is pushing for a state bonding package to help finance college campus improvements, mental health facilities and transportation projects.The Republican speaker says interest rates and construction costs are low, making it a good time to address what he called significant infrastructure needs around the state.Jones announced creation Wednesday of a special committee to work out the details of a bonding package. Democrat Chris Kelly will chair the panel.Legislation allowing Missouri to issue up to $950 million in bonds has already been filed in the Senate. Kelly says the Senate proposal will also be filed in the House as a starting point.Any bonding measure passed by lawmakers would have to be approved by voters.

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