HEAPR funding comes up short

University leaders failed to make a strong and detailed case to the state.

Included in Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs 2010 bonding proposal is $40 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). Falling below the $100 million requested by University of Minnesota leaders, the fund is used to make critical repairs and improvements to campus buildingsâÄô structures, climate control and accessibility. Campus buildings are an educational endowment to the citizens of the state; letting them fall into disrepair is a violation of the civic covenant that binds us to the foresight and sacrifices of generations past. Already, there is a $250 million maintenance backlog for University buildings. Delaying upkeep and repairs will only increase the cost, both from additional decay and higher construction costs in a recovered economy. With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to use long-term financing to protect essential investments. University leaders failed to make a detailed case for HEAPR financing. As The Minnesota Daily said when the UniversityâÄôs capital plan was first released, the administration must give the public and state leaders a more detailed and compelling outline of its needs. In contrast, MnSCU has clearly articulated its needs in a building-by-building budget plan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the governorâÄôs proposal funds 5.5 percent more of MnSCUâÄôs HEAPR request than the UniversityâÄôs âÄî a difference of over $5 million. Though the effect of more public engagement and transparency on the governorâÄôs proposal is clearly hypothetical, it is nonetheless essential that University leaders be more aggressive advocates as the bonding plan moves through the Legislature. http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/govrel/capitalrequest/pdf/11510_senate_he_pres.pdf