Senate DFL plan would cut $60M to U

The governor’s plan would give more immediate funding to the University.

The DFL leadership in the Senate Higher Education committee proposed a plan Tuesday that would cut $59.8 million to the University of MinnesotaâÄôs budget during the 2010-11 biennium. The plan would cut the UniversityâÄôs state funding by $132.4 million during the biennium, much smaller than Republican Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs proposed $242.8 million cut. But the DFL plan would use nearly $186 million less in federal stimulus funds than Pawlenty, creating a nearly $60 million cut not found in PawlentyâÄôs budget. The governorâÄôs budget would actually increase current funding by $15.7 million. Under the DFL plan, the University would receive a total of $1.35 billion in state and stimulus funding for 2010-11. PawlentyâÄôs plan would give the University $1.41 billion. University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter, who attended the committee meeting Tuesday, said the SenateâÄôs bill was, âÄúnot a terrible bill, but itâÄôs not a great bill.âÄù âÄúIf it were just purely on bottom line âÄî how much money âÄî the governorâÄôs bill has more money,âÄù he said when asked which plan he prefers. âÄúThe governorâÄôs bill has more overall money for higher education than the Senate bill does, thatâÄôs the truth.âÄù Cuts to state funding for higher education total 7 percent each of the next two biennia under the DFL plan. DFL leadership in the Senate said last month that they would use 7 percent across-the-board funding cuts to help fill the stateâÄôs $4.6 billion deficit. Nearly half of the Senate DFLâÄôs proposed budget fix comes in the form of new taxes. âÄúItâÄôs not very apparent that they gave a lot of [that tax revenue] to higher education,âÄù Pfutzenreuter said. âÄúItâÄôs worse on the stimulus by a lot, a little bit better on the recurring [funding]. IâÄôm not breaking out the hanky because IâÄôm crying, but IâÄôm not popping the champagne.âÄù Senate Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Sandra Pappas , DFL-St. Paul, said sheâÄôs still anticipating the recession to continue through the 2012-13 biennium and thatâÄôs why those cuts are in this budget. âÄúWeâÄôre too far behind,âÄù Pappas said. âÄúThe economy is in the tank âĦ We just donâÄôt feel that itâÄôs reasonable to do more than have half cuts and half taxes.âÄù Sen. Clair Robling , R-Jordan, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the governorâÄôs plans would give a greater share of stimulus funds to higher education âÄî nearly 60 percent of the stimulus funds the state got for education. The rest of stimulus funds are dedicated to K-12 education. In his budget recommendations, Pawlenty had called for increases to funding for K-12 education and deeper cuts to higher education with stimulus money to fill the hole left by them. Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Senate passed a K-12 education bill, which included more than $519 million in federal stimulus money , far more than the $148.2 million in the DFL higher education bill. âÄúThe federal stimulus money was to be split between higher education and K-12 and their split is different than the governorâÄôs split,âÄù Robling said. Of the plans proposed by Pawlenty and DFLers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Pappas said the Senate plan was the only one to propose a cut to K-12 education, which is why more stimulus money is found there than in higher education. âÄúThere still was a concern to protect K-12, so more stimulus was used to buy down the cuts in K-12,âÄù she said. âÄúThen the rest of the money was to do the same thing with higher ed., but we didnâÄôt need as much money to buy down our cuts. âÄú -Devin Henry is a senior staff reporter