Proposal reflects future needs of state

The $20.3 billion budget the Carlson Administration presented to the Legislature serves as a blueprint for bringing Minnesota into the 21st Century. It builds upon our successes of the past six years and reflects our priorities as we prepare Minnesota for the challenges that lie ahead.
One of those challenges is ensuring that Minnesota’s economy can compete in the global marketplace. To do that, our employees must be adequately trained for high-technology jobs. That is why a large percentage of our budget focuses on preparing our students for success, from K-12 education through higher education. In fact, almost 40 percent of the entire state budget is dedicated to education, a substantial investment.
Taking a closer look at the University of Minnesota budget, our recommendations include $116 million in new funding, a 13 percent increase. Total state support of the University is more than $1 billion for the next two years.
The budget reflects our commitment to building the University of Minnesota into one of
the top 10 research universities in the United States. Achieving this goal means the University must concentrate its efforts and resources on strengthening the quality and ranking of key academic and research programs, especially those with the greatest potential to contribute to the economic development of our state.
A simple definition of the University budget, which advances the key goals of the University’s strategic plan, can be described as a “commitment to excellence.”
ù Through a $40 million “blue chip” faculty recruitment and retention program, we want to attract and keep the most talented and productive scholars in Minnesota. This program will advance the University’s national ranking among research universities and ensure that the nation’s brightest minds are teaching our students and producing new ideas.
ù To ensure our best scholars are teaching our best students, we will provide $6.5 million for merit scholarships to help recruit academically gifted undergraduate and graduate students and further establish the University as a leading academic institution. We want Minnesota’s academic stars to stay in-state and be proud that their state university competes with the nation’s top institutions.
ù Those programs which are a key to the University’s success will be eligible for $58 million in “investment in excellence” grants which will support new investment in technology, facilities and programs. This state pool will be matched by University funding to leverage additional money for key programs.
ù To support research that benefits human health as well as creates new technologies that will sustain and grow Minnesota high-tech industry, we will provide $3 million toward building an endowment for the Biomedical Engineering Institute.
ù The technology that is developed at the Biomedical Engineering Institute will be moved more rapidly into the marketplace through a new technology transfer initiative called the Minnesota Technology Development Corporation. This is a nonprofit organization that will work with the Academic Heath Center to expand and accelerate the transfer of technology from the University research laboratories to the marketplace. More commercial applications of research and technology will be developed and licensed, with a preference to Minnesota business, generating new revenue for the University and creating high tech jobs for Minnesotans.
ù Additional investments in technology include $3 million to establish a Virtual University, which will utilize distance learning networks and programs to allow students to receive education and training whenever they like, and $12 million to implement MnLink, an integrated library system electronically connecting all libraries in Minnesota.
In addition to strengthening the University’s academic and research programs, we also want to make higher education more affordable for all families. Through a program called EdVest, families will be allowed to invest in a higher education tax-free savings account, similar to an IRA (individual retirement account). By setting aside money each year, EdVest provides families a method to plan ahead for the costs of higher education. Our budget also includes increases in the state grant and work study programs, providing needy students with additional resources to pay for college.
The University budget we presented is based on the principle of partnership — a partnership between the University, the business community, state government and the citizens of Minnesota. It is based on the philosophy that all of us in Minnesota must strive to make the University one of the best in the nation — to provide the University the resources and capabilities to guide us into the 21st Century.

Arne Carlson is the governor of the state of Minnesota.