JEFFERSON CITY - The new University of Missouri sports arena is one step closer to becoming a reality. Members of a House committee voted 3-2 to pass the resolution to the full House.
The House Special Committee on Public-Private Partnerships approved a resolution to authorize the University to float a bond issue to match private contributions to build the arena.
Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, voted against the measure.
"This was obviously a very difficult decision for me. This arena is needed and would be a benefit to Columbia, but because of the binding nature for future legislatures, I couldn't support this bill," Riback Wilson said.
Her decision also came from the budget crunch that the Missouri legislature faces over the next few years.
"The budget is tight. The timing is awkward and it is difficult to find funding with other priorities. I have been working to secure funds for University Hospital," said Riback Wilson.
Wilson says she is not opposed to working with the sponsor and with other groups before the resolution reaches a vote on the House floor.
"I am committed to women's athletics," Riback Wilson said in reference to arguments that the facility would benefit women's sports. "I also know that this effects Columbia's ability to get statewide events and conferences."
The resolution is sponsored by Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia. "This is a onetime offer and a bargain for us. If this passes, we will only pay for 45 percent of a building that the state owns."
Graham says that his job now is to education the rest of the House on the issue, before it comes to a vote.
"I want people to know that we're not spending the money this year. No money comes out of this budget, it is in the years to come," said Graham.
The resolution approved by the committee puts the total cost of the facility at $75 million with $35 million funded by revenue bonds secured by appropriations from the legislature.