Pawlenty cuts from bonding bill, saves Folwell Hall

Gov. Tim Pawlenty cut more than $300 million from the $1 billion bonding bill Monday.

by James Nord

Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed more than $300 million in construction projects from the $1 billion bonding bill on Monday, and while some cuts hit University of Minnesota projects, its top priority remained funded. Pawlenty approved a plan to renovate the historic Folwell Hall, the UniversityâÄôs top priority for special projects this session, but line-item vetoed state financing for plans outside the Twin Cities, including an American Indian resource center in Duluth and a research station in Itasca. âÄú[The] University of Minnesota does fine in the Twin Cities; it does terribly outstate,âÄù Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said. The University received roughly $90 million in the bill. It requested about $190 million. The funds allotted include $23 million requested from the state to renovate Folwell Hall. The University will make up the remainder of the projectâÄôs roughly $34.5 million total cost. Other University projects funded in the bill include: $56 million in HEAPR funds for general renovations; $4 million to plan a new physics and nanotechnology building and $6.6 million for system-wide laboratory renovations. Minnesota Student Association President Paul Strain, who testified before the Legislature on the subject, said he is pleased to see Folwell Hall included in the bill. However, Strain said he is disappointed that other projects were not funded. In one area âÄì funding for the physics and nanotechnology building âÄì Pawlenty actually recommended roughly 10 times more funding than the Legislature included in its final bill, which he lamented in a letter to lawmakers on Monday. The University requested $80 million for the project, but will receive $4 million under the billâÄôs provisions. âÄúIt’s too early to say what we’ll be back asking for from the Legislature in future years, but [the physics and nanotechnology building] is likely to remain a priority for the University,âÄù spokesperson Dan Wolter said in an e-mail. The roughly $1 billion bill agreed upon by the legislature was whittled down to about $680 million by Pawlenty, who chided Democrats for the amount of spending they approved. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system faced significantly more cuts than the University, despite serving a larger number of students. âÄúThe University of Minnesota should be very, very grateful,âÄù Hausman said. âÄúIn terms of every other part of the bill, they were treated best.âÄù Hausman said there likely wonâÄôt be an attempt to override PawlentyâÄôs cuts because previous Republican support has waned.