Dayton’s proposal is a good start

Dayton’s bonding proposal, though not ideal, sets aside funding for the University’s most pressing needs.

Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding proposal, released last week, provides funding for University of Minnesota projects cut late in last year’s legislative session.

In May 2013, a bonding bill that included nearly $110 million for renovation and reconstruction projects at the University failed to pass, leaving the Tate Laboratory of Physics and other buildings without much-needed improvements.

Though Dayton’s 2014 bonding proposal of $986 million fell nearly $114 million short of the University’s 2014 capital request, the recommendation sets aside money for campus’s most pressing needs: renovation and maintenance.

Included in the proposal is $56.7 million to renovate the Tate Laboratory of Physics, $12 million for the University’s research laboratory improvement fund and $40 million for the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding.

Some in the administration, including University lobbyist Jason Rohloff, rightly believe Dayton’s bonding proposal puts the school in a good position to begin the legislative session. President Eric Kaler said in a statement that he was “pleased Gov. Dayton is supporting some very important facility investments for our students.”

We agree that keeping current University buildings well-maintained should be a top priority. Though the recommendation doesn’t include funding for a new microbial sciences research building on the St. Paul campus, we are hopeful that lawmakers will find a way to help fund the University’s new research initiatives.

As state lawmakers prepare for the next session beginning in February, we hope they are prepared to continue strong investments in the University, working to both keep tuition low and maintain the school as a world-class research
institution.