Bill is short of gov.’s plan

A House committee approved a bonding bill $11 million short of Pawlenty’s proposal.

A House committee approved a bonding bill Wednesday that falls short of both Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s and the Senate’s proposed bills.

The House bonding bill, which finances construction projects and renovations, funds $89 million in University projects.

The bill falls nearly $11 million short of Pawlenty’s proposal and is approximately $29 million less than the Senate’s for University projects.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, said he was disappointed with the House proposal.

“It was a foolish thing to reduce the amount of money from the governor’s recommendation,” he said.

The University requested approximately $158 million from the state. The Senate passed a bonding bill in January that gave $118 million to the University. Pawlenty’s recommendation gave $100 million.

The University’s request includes improvements for Kolthoff Hall, the Education Sciences Building and the Academic Health Center’s educational facilities.

All three bonding-bill recommendations include those projects. But Pawlenty’s and the House’s do not include funding for a $13 million addition to the Sports and Health Center on the University’s Duluth campus.

The Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement fund, which is allotted for general renovation and preservation projects for all campuses, also received funding, but at lower levels than the Senate’s and Pawlenty’s proposals.

The House bill was $12 million less than the Senate’s recommendation and $7.1 million smaller than Pawlenty’s proposal.

The University’s construction requests provide state-of-the-art classrooms and research facilities, said Donna Peterson, University associate vice president for government relations.

For example, 35-year-old Kolthoff Hall needs better ventilation in its laboratories, according to the University’s request.

“We can’t expect the best and brightest of Minnesota students to come here if we don’t have modern classrooms and labs,” Peterson said.

Officials said the full House could vote on the bill as early as Tuesday.

Although University officials said they are upset with the House Capital Investment Committee’s decision, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said things could change between now and when the bill passes.

“It’s very hard to draw any conclusions,” she said.