Birmingham-Southern College officials are asking legislators one more time for a $30 million bailout before possibly ceasing operations.

State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) said at a Senate committee meeting on Wednesday that "the urgency is severely there to do something."

"I want to make a notice to everyone here," Smitherman said. "I wanted to bring that before everyone that I'm going to be presenting that as a one-time consideration in the supplemental (budget) for the body to consider so that we won't have to close this. We've got to give them some assistance. That will be coming for the consideration of the committee."

Daniel Coleman, Birmingham-Southern College President, said on Capitol Journal on Wednesday night that "we want enough money to make sure we never come back" to the Legislature to ask for more help.

"We're a private institution," Coleman said. "We understand that this is a one-time investment. We're not looking to become a public institution to keep coming back every year. That's not our purpose, but we do need enough money, so everyone has confidence that we're going to make it. This amount of money allows us to operate for the next three years while we build our endowment."

BSC officials announced in a press release in December that the private college would be seeking a combination of federal funding the state oversees with state, city, and county funding amounting to $37.5 million.

The college asked for $12.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds and $17.5 million from the state education fund. It also requested a $5 million contribution from the Birmingham City Council and $2.5 million from the Jefferson County Commission (JCC).

The bailout is necessary "in order to allow sufficient time for this fundraising effort to succeed and to give BSC breathing room to operate, we are seeking a one-time contribution," according to BSC's press release. 

The proposal so far hasn't generated much support among lawmakers outside of Jefferson County. No funding for the private college was included in the state's just-completed special session appropriating $1 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. City of Birmingham and Jefferson County officials also haven't appropriated any funding to the school.

JCC president Jimmie Stephens warned 1819 News last year that bailing out a private college could be a "slippery slope."

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