Every year, a process to fund the state of Minnesota begins. The state breaks funding into two separate categories. In odd numbered years, the state Legislature usually focuses on the overall budget, which includes University of Minnesota funding. In even numbered years like this one, the government looks to settle on a final bonding bill, a process in which the state Legislature sets the budget for capital projects such as infrastructure maintenance for government or University buildings. This year, Governor Mark Dayton requested a record amount of funding for the bill to combat the rising demands for maintenance and repair to the state’s infrastructure. The overall bill will secure $1.4 billion for this purpose and, although the Minnesota Legislature still has to approve the final funding, we thoroughly support this request by Dayton.
The passage of Dayton’s requested amount would mean several things for the University of Minnesota. The University plans to use the funding to renovate outdated University buildings such as Pillsbury Hall and the University Glensheen Estate in Duluth, as well as provide everyday maintenance funding for the entire University. The University prioritizes the latter, partly due to the cost effectiveness of the program. By constantly preserving and repairing buildings, large scale renovations are not needed as often. At $200 million, this program is the largest request coming from the University.
Unfortunately, the Minnesota Legislature still has to approve the final funding for the bill and has, in years past, severely undercut funding requests coming from the governor. Republicans still control both the House and the Senate in this legislative session that started in February, which has spelled disaster for University funding in past years. This year, it has been made known by Republican leaders in the House and Senate that the overall billion dollar bonding bill would not be fully funded.
We hope that Republican legislators will consider funding a more substantial proportion of the governor’s request than in years past, given the direct benefits that increased funding would provide. This bonding bill is critical for updating University buildings and making sure the University is providing the highest quality educational facilities. The profound effects of a slashed budget may show in other areas, but may hinder the University in the long term. Ultimately, it’s important to fund our University. In order for the University of Minnesota to remain a beacon of education, we highly recommend the state Legislature to approve these budget allocations by Dayton.