- Kelsey Hawes
On the same day the Idaho Legislature's budget-writing committee approved the addition of five more Idaho seats in a regional medical school program, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter unveiled a plan Thursday to create the Gem State's own College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The Joint Finance-Appropriation Committee gave its OK to $13.5 million in state support for health education, representing an increase of $718,700 over the current year. That included support for WWAMI, which provides subsidized medical school for students in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, increasing the number of Idaho seats to 40 per year.
At the same time, Otter revealed that private investors from the New Mexico-based Burrell Group would partner with Idaho State University to create the state's first med school, with an initial capital investment of approximately $105 million. Otter said when officials with the Burrell Group approached the state earlier this year, he brought ISU to the table to help draw up a draft agreement. Construction of a Meridian campus would begin in February 2017 with hopes to open its first class of about 150 students in 2018. The med school would be centered on osteopathic medicine, with particular focus on preventative care.
Otter said the state's commitment to the program would come in tax reimbursement incentives, totaling nearly $4 million over 10 years.