July 01, 2013

MEDICAL SCHOOL: Governor’s signature final step in funding quest

BY JIM MILLER | The Press-Enterprise

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that earmarks $15 million in last month’s budget package to a school of medicine at UC Riverside, ending years of efforts to secure the money.

The centerpiece of the higher education budget trailer bill signed Monday was the creation of a college scholarship program for middle-income families. The assistance was a priority of Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles.

The measure, though, also included language directing the University of California to spend $15 million to open the medical school. The money will come from a $125.1 million UC funding increase in the $96.3 billion general fund budget bill signed last Thursday.

Supporters of the school said a state funding commitment was vital to the school’s future and to maintain its accreditation. The region, they said, has a serious shortage of primary-care physicians at a time when the federal healthcare law will increase the number of insured residents seeking doctors.

Inland lawmakers from both sides of the aisle praised Monday’s action.

“My main focus from day one was to ensure that this becomes a continuing appropriation by UC to ensure that the accreditation process is not compromised,” state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, the top Republican on the Senate budget panel, said in a statement.

“This ongoing funding commitment is a victory for the UCR Medical School, the health of the people of Inland Southern California, and our regional economy,” state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, said.

Added Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside: "I felt good on Thursday. It's the end of a long, community-wide process."


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