Budget presentation receives good review

Chris Vetter

As students take a break from classes during the next two weeks, University officials will work hard to sell their proposed budget to the Legislature.
Because the state Legislature has two houses, the University officials must present their budget plans twice, once before the Senate Higher Education Committee, and once before the House Higher Education Committee.
University officials presented the budget before the Senate committee two weeks ago during a sequence of three meetings.
The University will begin giving its budget presentation to the House committee either next Wednesday or Friday and will finish before spring quarter begins.
Marvin Marshak, senior vice president for academic affairs, who has given most of the presentations so far for the University, said the House presentation will be the same as the one given before the Senate.
In the coming weeks, the Senate committee will begin formulating a bill that would determine the level of funding for the University in the next biennium. The House will begin working on a similar bill after the University completes its presentation.
The University’s proposal to the Senate drew good reviews from the nine-member higher education committee.
“It was a good presentation with a solid emphasis on technology,” said Sen. Dave Kleis, R-St. Cloud.
Sen. Cal Larson, R-Fergus Falls, who has served on the committee for eight years, said he was very pleased with the University’s presentation.
“I thought it was the best presentation I have seen in all my years at the Legislature,” Larson said. Larson has been in the Legislature since 1968. He also agreed with Kleis that the focus on technology was a highlight of the presentation.
But other legislators were not as enthusiastic. Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said he does not like the idea of a four-year plan, which would provide a consistent funding level from the state for the next four years.
University officials told the Senate committee it would not request an increase in two years if this session’s $1.6 billion request is met in full. They also said the school would match any increase in funds it receives more than its base of about $460 million per year.
Kelley said he had doubts about the University coming up with its share of the funding in this partnership.
“I’d like to make sure if the state went forward, that we have methods to make sure (the University) is earning their part of the money,” Kelley said. “It’s all part of accountability.”
However, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Thief River Falls, who chairs the committee, said he likes the four-year plan.
“It would give (the University) a commitment from the Legislature for beyond two years,” Stumpf said.