The budget from the North Carolina Senate zeroes-out funding for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. And the Republican leader says it’s time for the hub of the state’s growing biotech and life science cluster to “live on it’s own.”

But the head of the Biotech Center warns that may not be possible.

“Rick, we really hope the ultimate outcome is not a complete end to state funding,” Biotech Center CEO Doug Edgeton told The Skinny.

“It’s the Biotech Center’s responsibility and charge to build a solid infrastructure that makes North Carolina a global leader in the life sciences.

“We need state funding to do this.”

Now it’s up to the House to save funding in final budget negotiations. And Edgeton has hope.

“On a positive note, the Senate and House have differed on our budget over many years,” he said. “It is a normal part of the process for our budget to be resolved in conference. We expect the Biotech Center to have a workable budget when the process is complete.”

The Senate formally approved its two-year spending plan on Wednesday. But their budget differs greatly from the one passed in the House where the Biotechnology Center is allocated more than $13 million.

Negotiations over a compromise budget will begin next week, reports WRAL’s Capitol team.

But if the attitude of the power Republican in the Senate is an indication of what to expect, the Biotech Center supporters face a tough fight.

WRAL’s Mark Binker asked Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, Senate Majority Leader and Senate Appropriations Chairman, directly about the Biotech Center funding cut.

“It’s to the point where it can live on it’s own and doesn’t need state money any more.,” Brown replied.

The Biotech Center’s previous allocation was $8 million in recurring funds a year plus one-time allocations of $5 million. The Senate cut the $8 million while the House had actually rolled all the money into recurring funding.

In the view of the Biotech Center, the Senate’s budget represents a $13 million-plus cut.

Two years of pressure

A 25 percent budget slash in the previous spending plan from some $17 million led to layoffs and a major reorganization of the Center under former CEO Norris Tolson.

Now, Edgeton, who took over for Tolson last year and has sought to get funding restored, must find enough political allies in the General Assembly to overcome Brown’s stance.

“We don’t want life sciences to go the way of textiles, tobacco and furniture manufacturing here,” Edgeton told WRAL TechWire via email from the international BIO convention in Philadelphia earlier this week.

“The sector’s technologies hold the solutions to many of our most pressing problems.

“If the state continues its modest investment in the Biotech Center, we can solve these problems here and create high-paying jobs across North Carolina. If not, there are other states lined up to move this sector out from under us.”

Pressure from the Governor’s office and from the General Assembly to force the Biotech Center off state funding has been growing since Gov. Pat McCrory proposed a 60 percent cut in March 2013 – shortly after he took office.