Panel Advances Jonesboro Senator's Bill for Matching Funds for Cancer Center

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A $50 million matching fund to expand a cancer center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was endorsed by a joint legislative panel this morning.

The Joint Budget Committee advanced the proposal by Senator Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro).  The funds are to be used to help build and endow a 288,000-square-foot expansion of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center in Little Rock.  The bill would provide $50 million to match $50 million in hoped-for private fundraising.  Money from a bond issue would provide another $35 million.

The proposal now heads to the House floor for a vote.

Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson of UAMS and former Alltel chief executive Joe Ford told the panel they were confident the school could raise the $50 million in private funds for the center.  Ford and his wife, Jo Ellen, have already pledged $1 million for the project.

All 135 legislators have signed on as sponsors of the matching fund bill, which passed the Senate last week.

UAMS is considering naming the center after the late Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller, who died last year of a blood disorder.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)