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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A cry for Byrd Institute funding



As of three weeks ago, former state Sen. John Grant is lobbying for the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute, and this afternoon he told a House committee that without $5 million in state funding, "probably the institute is history."

Grant appeared before the House State Universities and Private Colleges Appropriations Committee to support Republican Rep. Rachel Burgin's bill to statutorily account for last year's agreement to put the Byrd Institute within the University of South Florida.

He pressed the committee for its support and made a case for "some minimal funding" to move ahead with the accreditation process. Grant said the application for accreditation is due the first week of May and without that accreditation the institute stands to lose critical research dollars and ultimately "the institute."

Last year the Legislature gave zero funding to the institute.

According to Grant, Byrd CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko says they probably won't even file for accreditation without some funding. As things stand, there's nothing in the House budget and minimal funding in the Senate version.

And after a $100 million investment, the Legislature would be left with a "pretty nice building" in Tampa, Grant said.

Burgin's bill advanced on a unanimous vote, with the funding question still out there. In closing, Burgin said her grandfather has Alzheimer's and her family is dealing with it daily.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 7:36pm]


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