Pawlenty vetoes Bell Museum, light rail

Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed funding for a new Bell Museum on the St. Paul campus and $2 million for classroom renewal Monday.

Slashing the Legislature’s recently passed bonding bill, Pawlenty cut more than $200 million in funding for projects across the state, including $70 million in state funding for the central corridor project, which was intended to link St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, called the cutting of the light-rail project the “tragedy of the bill.”

“In my opinion, the governor single-handedly killed the central corridor,” she said.

While Hausman said she didn’t understand Pawlenty’s opposition to the Bell Museum, she said with the amount of fundraising the University has done over the years, it’s time to fund that project.

University President Bob Bruininks said in a statement he was “disappointed” Pawlenty cut the Bell Museum, but said the University had already raised millions in private donations and will continue to seek state funding for the project.

Spared from the cuts was the University’s $292 biomedical research program, for which the state is set to pay 75 percent of the cost.

Lauding Pawlenty’s decision to fund biomedical research, Bruininks said in a statement he was pleased with the number of projects that received funding, but “most importantly” the biomedical research program.

Despite the cuts, Hausman said the outcome was still positive for the University.

“It is a fabulous bill for the University of Minnesota,” she said. “We fought long and hard.”

Jake Grovum is a senior staff reporter.