State lockout could limit U

Some state contracts could expire along with the state’s twoyear budget.

Than Tibbetts

University researchers learned this week that ongoing research projects could be stopped and hundreds of grants withheld if state lawmakers are unable to reach a budget deal by Thursday night.

Although University officials said they don’t know what would be shut down as a result of the budget impasse, some state contracts and grants could expire along with the state’s two-year budget.

“We think there are more than 250 of these (grants and contracts),” said Ed Wink, University associate vice president for Sponsored Projects Administration.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial officer, said the good news for the University is that the higher-education bill was passed and the University will receive its budgeted money for the next two years.

Yet, several budget bills remain undetermined as the deadline approaches, which could leave some University researchers without funding come July 1.

Wink said the grants and contracts represent approximately $27 million of research or public-service projects annually. He said researchers at the University began receiving notices from state agencies earlier this week.

Wink added that state shutdown details are still hard to come by and many researchers aren’t sure whether their projects will be paused.

Lee Munnich, a senior fellow in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said two of his projects received notice from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

“It could affect some of the faculty,” he said. “We may shift some people to other projects if there is a suspension or a shutdown.”

Munnich’s projects are a study of the Interstate 394 toll lane and transportation policy research. The projects are worth approximately $3.75 million combined over the length of their contracts.

Sarah Youngerman, Academic Health Center public relations associate director, said the center would be affected because the state has yet to pass the health and human services bill.

“There’s still a lot of confusion about what the impact would be,” Youngerman said. “We would be looking at delays in research info and wasting research time.”

Beth Nunnally, the center’s chief financial officer, said the center has been instructed to continue to offer services through its clinics, even though a shutdown would delay payments.

“It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get the dollars, but it would be a longer wait,” she said.

Clinics designated as “critical,” such as the Community-University Health Care Center in South Minneapolis, will continue to receive payments on time, Nunnally said.