To loud applause at the Riverside Convention Center, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that she is lobbying Gov. Jerry Brown to find $15 million a year to help open and run the medical school at UC Riverside.
Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter Tuesday to the governor urging him to include the money in his annual budget so UCR can open the school in 2013.
In her letter, she cited the need for physicians in the Inland region and the economic benefit the school would bring to the area.
Before a lunch meeting of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, Feinstein said the still-unopened medical school will be a scientific and economic engine and she urged local elected officials and business leaders to contact the governor’s office.
“We must make sure that happens,” Feinstein said.
“I am going to need your help to call on our great governor and say, ‘Jerry, you’ve got to find $15 million,’” she said. “It can be found.”
Gov. Brown was traveling to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and his office did not have an immediate comment on Feinstein’s letter.
The medical school has been in the works for years and was originally set to open this year. But so far, UCR officials have not been able to secure ongoing state funding.
Medical School Dean G. Richard Olds welcomed Feinstein’s support.
“A U.S. senator is lobbying the state for support,” he said by telephone just after leaving the Riverside Convention Center. “We are hopeful the senator’s connections with the governor will help.”
Olds said UCR officials are pushing ahead with private fundraising and hope to open the school next year, with at least 50 students to start. He said the goal is to raise $10 million a year for the next decade to help support the medical school.
However, even if the school is able to open, it must have ongoing state support to be viable, Olds said.
In addition to the medical school, Feinstein touched on a host of other issues during her speech. She spoke about being chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the housing crisis and the economy, which she said is beginning to rebound.
She also unveiled a proposal to reduce the tax rate for companies that manufacture products domestically.
Her bill, which she plans to introduce in the coming weeks, would apply to companies that receive income from patented intellectual property. If those companies manufacture the products domestically, the profits would get taxed at 15 percent, rather than the current 35 percent, Feinstein said.
Feinstein said the bill would provide an incentive for companies to invest in intellectual property and domestic manufacturing.
After speaking before the chamber, Feinstein toured a plastics recycling plant in Riverside. The company, carbonLITE, recently started operating a 220,000-square-foot facility off Michigan Avenue.
A formal grand opening is scheduled for March 2. Feinstein walked around the floor of the massive building as company President Neville Browne and Chairman Leon Farahnik, described the operation.
The plant takes plastic bottles, breaks them down and recycles them into a product that is used to manufacture new plastic bottles.
Feinstein seemed impressed. “This is something that could be expanded,” she told company executives as she got into her car.
Feinstein attended a private fundraiser later Wednesday, and is scheduled to speak today before a meeting of the Greater Corona Valley Chamber of Commerce and tour the Fender guitar factory in Corona.