Regents approve request

The 2006-07 biennial budget is the lowest request in more than a decade.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved the University’s 2006-07 biennial budget proposal Friday.

The budget asks for a partnership between the state and the University, each entity contributing $84 million over two years. The 2006-07 biennial budget is the lowest request in more than a decade, but it will take care of the University’s priorities, University President Bob Bruininks said.

The University will come up with its share by raising tuition and reallocating internal funds. It will also request more money from the state.

Tuition will increase by 5.5 percent, giving the University $27 million each year. Internal reallocations will give $15 million each of the two years.

The University’s contributions will fund academic programs, facilities operations and a 4 percent pay and benefit increase for employees.

The state’s contributions are divided to fund three major initiatives: researching biosciences that contribute to a healthy society, attracting and retaining academic talent, and creating and sustaining research and technology infrastructures.

The University is in the top rankings for biosciences, and it is an area that deserves funding, Bruininks said.

Attracting talent to the University is also crucial, he said. Because the University has the largest percentage of graduate and professional students of any U.S. university – 40 percent – those programs need increased attention, Bruininks said.

Regents said the request was more than fair.

“It’s very appropriate for the state to be a partner in this,”

Regent Maureen Reed said.

She said she would even prefer the partnership to be 60 percent-funded by the state.

Regent Frank Berman said he agreed the state should invest more.

“I would encourage an increased request for compensation and preparing students,” he said. “These are areas that beg themselves for support from the Legislature.”

Regents Chairman David Metzen said the University’s internal $15 million reallocation will hurt, but there is little else to do.

“There is going to be a lot of pain and a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “That’s a lot of money, and we’ll have to decide which programs to keep and which ones not to.”

Without state investment, Bruininks said, it will be impossible to maintain a world-class research institution.

“This is the research and economic engine of the state,” he said. “To compete in the world’s economy, we will need a vibrant and productive University of Minnesota.”

When asking the state for money this coming session, it will be “essential” for the University to show the Legislature the impact it has, Bruininks said.

For instance, he said, the state gets $16 back for every dollar it invests in the University.

He said the request should not be a huge burden to the state.

He and University chief financial officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said that of the total state budget, not including debt obligation and the amount already given to higher education, the state would need to take three-tenths of a percent from another area to fund all of the University’s request each year.