Regents discuss 2002 facilities capital request

K.C. Howard

While the University’s biennium budget awaits legislative approval, the school is busy preparing another state funding request.

The University’s Board of Regents discussed Friday a request for $240.3 million in state funding to be presented to the 2002 Legislature.

About 68 percent of the requested money would go toward the renewal and replacement of facilities and 32 percent toward new construction projects. The money would be phased into use during the next six years and added to the University’s obligatory $53.4 million matching fund.

“By law we had to send (the Legislature) a preliminary capital request in June,” said Richard Pfutzenreuter, University vice president for budget and finance.

Although the request comes to the Legislature at an inopportune time, this is the way it’s always been done, Pfutzenreuter said.

During even-numbered years the Legislature entertains capital requests – money for facilities and maintenance – from government agencies. In odd-numbered years the state allocates agency operating budgets, such as the University’s biennium budget request.

Usually the Legislature isn’t preparing for a special session, and the Capital Investment Committee would normally be touring state agencies this summer, Pfutzenreuter said.

But with state lawmakers preoccupied with major funding bills and state agency budgets teetering on the edge of existence, legislatures have had little or no time to think about capital requests, said Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, chair of the Capital Investment Committee.

Despite bad timing, the extent to which the Legislature will fulfill the University’s capital request depends on future revenue forecasts and competing agency requests.

The University plans to use the money for a slew of projects including renovating Jones Hall, correcting St. Paul greenhouses to comply with state pesticide laws, systemwide classroom improvements and redesigning Northrop Auditorium.

“You never get the full request,” said Bob Bruininks, University vice president and provost. “But we’re going to work as hard as we can.”

 

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