State House is set to vote on U’s requests in bonding bill

by Brady Averill

The House Ways and Means Committee sent the bonding bill to the floor after approving it late Thursday night.

The bill – which funds construction projects – allocates $89 million for University projects. It falls $69 million short of the University’s $158 million request.

Legislative officials said the House floor will vote on the bill some time early next week.

The House version of the bill is less than the governor’s $100 million recommendation. The Senate passed a $118 million bonding bill in January. The House bill did not fully fund any of the projects the University requested.

University officials said the bill leaves the University hanging on what projects it can do.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, called the House bill “a big disappointment.”

If the House floor passes the bill, it will go to conference committee, in which the House and Senate will have to agree on a single bill. University officials will again push for more money from the conference committee, Pfutzenreuter said.

The bonding bill funds the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement fund, which is allotted for general renovation and preservation projects for all University campuses. It also funds a Kolthoff Hall renovation, Education Sciences Building and Academic Health Center education projects.

Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill and the governor’s recommendation do not fund a recreational sports center on the Duluth campus.

Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, said she was proud to vote for the bill – which she doesn’t always do – because it was a “very good, far-forward-reaching bill.”

Rep. Phillip Krinkie, R-Shoreview, encouraged committee members not to vote for the bill.

“Just remember, when you vote for this bill, you’re spending into the future,” he said.