U may get $120M from state funding introduced

Legislators will decide on a final funding amount for the University in May.

Barry Lytton

Legislation to set aside an additional $120 million in state funding for the University of Minnesota in 2016-17 has generated discussion among state Senators and support from school officials.

University President Eric Kaler presented the institution’s budget request — which includes extending a freeze on tuition rates and boosting Medical School funding — to the state Senate’s higher education committee on Tuesday.

At the committee meeting, Kaler applauded a bill authored by Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, that includes most of the school’s request to increase state funding by $148.2 million in the next two years. Lawmakers will discuss proposals, like Cohen’s, in the coming weeks until they agree on final funding amounts for the University before the session ends in May.

“Sen. Cohen’s bill supports and enhances the University’s partnership with the state to benefit our students, their families, Minnesotans’ health and the state’s economic vibrancy, from the urban core to our rural towns,” Kaler said in a University statement.

The bill includes $25.5 million for the school’s “Healthy Minnesota” initiative and $30 million for the Medical School as part of an effort to help the University address health care workforce shortages and bolster research. It outlines $65.2 million for a research investment — the amount the school is requesting to freeze tuition rates for resident undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

“A midsize state like Minnesota rises or falls with the land-grant research University,” Cohen said.