Lawmakers want to tiefunding to performance

Jessica Burke

The University’s Academic Health Center might receive more money from the Legislature — but there’s a catch.
The University of Minnesota Finance Division of the House Education Committee recommended nearly $4.5 million for the center Tuesday. This amount tops the $3.3 million the Senate Education Committee approved. But under the House plan, the University will get the money only after it reaches certain benchmarks.
When the University can demonstrate that it accomplished the goals the Legislature mandates, it will get the funds.
Rep. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, offered the first performance measure, which will earn the center 90 percent of the funds.
Kelley’s performance mandate requires the University to make changes to the tenure code for clinical faculty in the center.
The Board of Regents requested a Universitywide review of tenure in December. Several school officials testified during two meetings about the tenure process and what kind of decisions the University is making.
“Tenure is essential,” said Frank Cerra, dean of the Medical School. “Change in the tenure code is essential.”
Cerra also told the subcommittee that the appropriate processes have begun in changing the tenure code.
But Rep. Becky Kelso, DFL-Shakopee, said she didn’t see that University officials are willing to make the tough decisions they are being forced to make. “I am continually frustrated in seeing so few changes, so few signs of change,” she said. Kelso is chairwoman of the sub-committee.
The performance measures are the Legislature’s way of prodding the University to make the changes it needs to survive, Kelso said.
The remainder of the appropriations for the center will be released when the University demonstrates that it is progressing in the Rural Health School at the Duluth campus.
The subcommittee’s recommendation for the center was less than the $14.5 million the University requested. But the subcommittee’s hands were tied, Kelso said. “The target figure is one that we’re all disappointed in,” she said.
The Ways and Means Committee gave the subcommittee a target of $5 million. The Higher Education Finance Division, which deals with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, also had the same target.
The full education committee in the House will hear the subcommittee’s recommendations today.