Ventura’s budget

Sean Madigan

In his first biennial budget proposal, entitled “A Taxpayer’s Budget,” Gov. Jesse Ventura is directing 70 percent of all new spending to education, and the University’s medical community stands to gain considerably.
The state House and Senate will form their own budget proposals, and the ultimate budget breakdown will be a combination of all three.
Ventura proposed to allocate 34 percent of the $1.3 billion tobacco settlements to medical education. The University’s Minnesota Medical Foundation will manage 27 percent of the settlement — more than $350 million — in the form of the health professional education and medical research endowment.
The University’s Medical School produces more than two-thirds of the state’s medical professionals. The endowment will help supplement revenue from declining patient income due to cuts in managed care costs. Funding will also bolster teaching programs at the University’s Academic Health Center, and it will support medical research.
“I’m currently delighted,” said Frank Cerra the center’s senior vice president for health science. “I’ve always said it should go to medical education. It shows (Ventura) has confidence that we can deliver.”
An additional 7 percent, or $100 million, is proposed to fund the Medical Education and Research Costs endowment. The MERC endowment helps state teaching hospitals and clinics support fourth- and fifth-year graduate students.
Under Ventura’s proposal for higher education, the AHC will gain an additional $5 million for research programs and community-based care.