Lawmakers unveil state budget targets

Legislative leaders set forth $150 million for higher education, which will be distributed in the coming days.

The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2015.

Image by Bridget Bennett

The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2015.

by J.D. Duggan

Legislative leaders announced statewide budget targets Sunday ahead of their Monday deadline, leaving committees scrambling to appropriate funds.

The higher education budget target for the upcoming biennium is $150 million, while the University of Minnesota requested an $87 million increase to its base appropriations. Minnesota lawmakers will convene for a one-day special session this coming Thursday to allow committees to work with their allocated dollars, said Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn, in a press conference Sunday. Until House and Senate higher education committees meet, it is uncertain how much will be distributed to the University.

“With the number that’s been put forth, maybe the U will not get everything that they’re looking for, but it certainly is well on the way from where we started at the very beginning of the session,” said Regent Emeritus Tom Devine, co-chair of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association’s legislative advocacy group.

In addition to the biennial budget, DFL Gov. Tim Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka R-Nisswa, and Hortman unveiled allocations for a $500 million bonding bill. 

The University’s $232 million bonding request may not be entirely fulfilled. But Devine said a private donation toward the University’s Institute of Child Development building renovation could lead lawmakers to fully fund the state’s $12 million portion of the project ask in a bonding bill. 

Earlier this session, the House Capital Investment Committee proposed $150 million in bonding appropriations for the University in its omnibus bill. The Senate Capital Investment Committee has yet to meet this session and has not created an omnibus bonding bill.

Madeline Deninger contributed to this report.