The delay in passing a bonding bill is costing the University more money every day, University President Bob Bruininks told legislators Monday.
Bruininks presented a $158 million capital bonding request, which provides funding for University building projects, to a Senate committee during a hearing at the Capitol. Because the bonding bill did not pass the Legislature this spring, the University resubmitted its request.
The updated list was approximately $3 million more than last session’s request because of inflation and increased construction costs. The request included renovations for Kolthoff Hall, the Education Sciences Building and the Academic Health Center’s classrooms.
The Carlson School of Management’s building expansion and a new business school on the University’s Duluth campus were not included in the new proposal because enough money had been raised privately to cover planning costs, Bruininks said. Those two projects will return to the bonding request in 2006, he said.
Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said she asked Bruininks why the University requested money for health classrooms while shutting down several medical programs, such as the occupational therapy program.
The University should not cut any medical programs, she said, because no other public institution in Minnesota can afford to train health-care professionals.
“We need to make sure we have the professionals we need,” she said. “And right now, we are not meeting that need.”
Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, said that he understands the University’s need to maintain facilities because it has an interest in keeping things functioning and updated.
He said he hopes to fund many of the projects in the request. However, he said, he did not know if the Senate could fund the entire request this session.
“All things are possible, but within the legislative process, there are few occasions where you get everything you want,” Senjem said.
Although there was talk of a special session to pass the bonding bill a week ago, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said it would be better for the University if the bill were passed at the beginning of the 2005 session.
That way, newly elected House members would have a chance to make their voices heard, she said.
Also, students should pay more attention to how much money the University gets from the Legislature this year, Pappas said.
“Students should be up in arms with these double-digit tuition increases,” Pappas said. “They deserve to have good facilities to learn in if they are paying that much money.”