When complete, the building will be one of the largest public construction projects in recent state history, with a price tag of at least $32 million.
Johnson, a member of the U.S. Senate's Appropriation Committee, is happy that he was able to play a role in securing approximately $2 million necessary to complete the structure.
His first attempt to get those funds approved in Washington failed last year.
The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee granted Johnson's earmark request of $1 million for the medical school construction, a carryover project from last year.
"This year, I was able to insert $1 million into this year's version of Labor HHS, and $1 million into the Treasury HUD appropriations bill," Johnson said. "The hope is that we get all $2 million, and then we'll be done with the funding for the medical school."
Both appropriations bills passed out of committee and await floor action in the Senate.�
Earmarks, like this one, are grants secured by members of Congress, enabling them to support high-priority projects in their home states.� Each member of Congress' ability to deliver earmarks for their state varies depending on their seniority, committee assignments, and other factors.
"In my conservations with President Abbott, he made it clear that the final $2 million wasn't going to have a consequence as far the finishing of this building," Johnson said while standing in what will one day be one of the state-of-the-art research laboratories in the new structure.
"But if they were short a couple of million dollars, it would hinder the furnishing and the equiping of this building, and to me, that would be inexcusable," Johnson said, "to have a building of this significance, and not get that final bit of technology and equipment, so I've made securing that final $2 million a very high priority for me."
Johnson's goal, he said, is to have a first-class facility on the USD campus.
"I want to see to it that when we open the doors to South Dakota's students and researchers to come in here, they will be entering a facility the likes of which we have never seen before."