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(Springfield) – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon observed the signing of a new initiative between MSU President Clif Smart and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton at the Springfield Chamber of Commerce Monday. The initiative looks to train more healthcare professionals in southwest Missouri.

Gov. Nixon praised the effort and said $11.3 million in funding for the new programs could safely move forward if his veto of House Bill 253 is sustained by the General Assembly. Citing the potential for a $1.2 billion hit to the state budget if House Bill 253 became law, the Governor restricted $400 million in spending in June, including funding for these programs. If the General Assembly overrides the Governor’s veto and House Bill 253 becomes law, public higher education institutions in Missouri could see a reduction in funding of up to $116 million in the current fiscal year.

Chancellor Deaton said that, when fully implemented, the project will provide more than 300 additional physicians for the area, add more than $390 million annually to Missouri’s economy, and create 3,500 new jobs.

With the help of $10 million in funding, the University of Missouri School of Medicine is partnering with CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield in a joint agreement to increase the medical student class size at the school and to create a clinical campus in Springfield in a public-private partnership. The remaining funding will help Missouri State University establish an occupational therapy program at its Springfield campus, and expand its nursing and allied health programs at the West Plains campus.

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