House passes bonding bill

The House bill allots $2 million more for the University than the Senate version.

Jake Grovum

The Minnesota House passed its $1 billion version of the capital investment bill Thursday 99 to 34, which includes funding for the University’s biomedical research plan and new Bell Museum of Natural History.

Both the House and Senate skipped funding renovation projects for Folwell Hall.

The bill is very similar to the Senate’s, though the House allocated $136 million to the University – $2 million more than its senatorial counterpart.

The additional funds will go to research and outreach centers for the University’s Crookston campus.

In a previous interview, Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, said school officials are happy with both bonding bills.

Aside from the University’s biomedical research plan and the Bell Museum, the House and Senate both allocated $48.3 million for a new science teaching and student services building.

In the wake of the nearly $1 billion deficit the state is facing, many House Republicans were critical of the spending, including Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan.

“There’s more pork in this bill than the biggest hog farmer in the state,” he said on the House floor. “It’d make him blush.”

Legislators debated the bill for more than four hours at the Capitol, but much of the debate centered on the necessity of other projects in the bill, not University-specific appropriations.

Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria, led the way for House Republicans.

“We’re passing out millions and millions of dollars like it’s Monopoly money to a bunch of niceties,” he said.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been especially critical of the Legislature’s willingness to spend despite the deficit.

Pawlenty has said the final bonding bill will need to be closer to $800 million before he’ll approve it.

Both the House and Senate will meet in the near future in a conference committee to work toward presenting a finalized bill to Pawlenty.