Pawlenty on MPR: Why can’t the Bell Museum wait?

by Devin Henry

Speaking on MPR today, Gov. Tim Pawlenty was asked about his thoughts on funding for a new Bell Museum of Natural History on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Tim Pawlenty

While Pawlenty didn’t explicitly say he would veto funding for the museum, which is in the Senate’s version of the state’s bonding bill, he did question the value of funding the project this session.

"What is the emergency to have the new Bell Museum this year?" Pawlenty said. "Why can’t that wait until next year?… Why is the Bell Museum so urgent that it can’t wait eight months?"

Pawlenty said the bonding bill this session should be focused on, "meat and potato" projects such as relief for flood victims.

Last session, Pawlenty vetoed funding for a new Bell Museum. In this year’s version of the bonding bill, the Senate passed a plan to provide $24 million in funding for the project, while the House left funding out. A conference committee is set to begin meeting this week to hammer out the differences between the bills and pass it along to Pawlenty.

University rendering of the proposed Bell Museum

Bell Museum staff have said that University President Bob Bruininks has told them the project will not be a priority for the University during the 2010 Legislative session should they not secure funding for it this year.