Regents OK Bruininks’ budget plan

The budget predicts a 4.5 percent tuition increase in 2008 and 2009.

by Elizabeth Cook

The University Board of Regents approved President Bob Bruininks’ $192.3 million biennial budget request, resolutions related to stadium bonds and the 2007 state capital request at Friday’s monthly meeting at the McNamara Alumni Center.

If all goes as planned, the state will pay $123.4 million and the rest will come from reducing University waste ($23 million) and a 4.5 percent tuition hike for 2008 and 2009 ($49.5 million).

The budget request passed unanimously, but Regent Steven Hunter expressed concern about the tuition.

In this budget, he said, faculty and staff will get salary and compensation increases while students will get higher tuition.

“I know tuition (increases are) lower than ever,” Hunter said. “But, there are a lot of employers who don’t give anyone raises.”

Hunter said he’d like the Legislature, which convenes in January, to address the issue.

Capital request

The board also approved Bruininks’ 2007 state capital request, which has two distinct parts.

The first part would establish the Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority to designate approximately $279 million in state bonds to finance new labs and research space over the next 10 years.

The University will commit $31 million to pay for 10 percent of the total construction cost.

The Board also approved a $22 million request for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds to repair and maintain statewide University of Minnesota system infrastructure.

The Board will formally submit the capital request to the Legislature in January.

U promises money

The Board also passed a resolution promising to raise the University’s share of funding to build TCF Bank Stadium, Regent Tony Baraga said, in order to begin receiving state funding.

To help fund the on-campus stadium, the Legislature gave the University an annual appropriation of about $10.3 million for 25 years, starting in the 2008 fiscal year, said Carol Fleck, the director of debt management in the University’s Office of Budget and Finance.

The University will issue about $137 million in municipal bonds, and state funding will pay the interest and principal on those bonds, she said.

In order for the state to give the University the money come July, the Board had to certify that the University raised its share of the money, Fleck said.

“It was a condition of the legislation that we had to certify that we would come up with the other financing before they basically agreed to transfer that money to us,” she said.