Gov. budgets $1.2B for U

Pawlenty’s share for the University is $13 million less than it requested.

by Brady Averill

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his recommendation for the state’s two-year budget Tuesday, which included $1.22 billion for the University for the next two years.

Pawlenty’s recommendation is $13 million less than what University President Bob Bruininks requested. But it is $113 million more than the University’s last two-year budget.

Bruininks asked the Legislature for an additional $126 million: $42 million during the 2005-06 school year and $84 million for the 2006-07 school year.

Two years ago, the University’s budget was cut $185 million. For the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years, the University received a total $1.1 billion from the state.

While Pawlenty’s recommended amount is lower than what the University asked for, Bruininks said he was happy with it.

“I deeply appreciate the strong affirmative support of the governor,” he said.

If the governor’s recommendation holds in the House and Senate, the University will not have to increase tuition much more than 5.5 percent, Bruininks said.

“It will allow us, if funded at this level, to keep tuition at a modest level or a moderate increase over the next two years,” he said.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said they were not happy with Pawlenty’s recommendation.

“We’re still down from where we were,” Kahn said. “That’s totally unacceptable.”

Pogemiller said Pawlenty isn’t making up for past cuts.

“I don’t think he’s made up for the devastation that he created already,” Pogemiller said.

House Higher Education Finance Committee Chairman Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said the governor’s recommendation is a “good, generous starting point.”

He said he is pleased, considering the cuts the University faced a few years ago.

The next step for the University is to continue lobbying at the Capitol.

“We’ll just have to work really hard to get our message (out),” said Donna Peterson, University associate vice president for government relations.

Pawlenty’s recommendation included $36 million to fund biosciences, $15 million to compensate and retain faculty members, $19.5 million to strengthen undergraduate and graduate research efforts, $35 million to recruit and retain research faculty members, and $7.5 million to collaborate with the Mayo Foundation.

– Than Tibbetts contributed to this report.