U receives $80 million less than requested for budget

by Erin Ghere

The higher education committee of the state House of Representatives will vote today on a bill to fund the University for the next two years.
The committee will recommend allotting $118 million for initiatives proposed by University President Mark Yudof — an amount which is $3 million less than Gov. Jesse Ventura’s proposed budget and more than $80 million less than what the University requested.
One of the main reasons for the deficiency in the allotment is the lack of money from the tobacco settlement — money Ventura recommended for use in the Medical School and medical research at the University, said Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis.
“It’s devastating because that was going to be a jump-start and would be an ongoing thing,” Kahn said.
A vast portion of the recommended amount — $106 million — has been generally proposed to go toward Yudof’s academic initiatives.
Yudof was unavailable for comment.
The initiatives laid out in the biennial budget request, which Yudof submitted to the Legislature last fall, were five-fold:
ù To enrich the undergraduate experience at the University by providing faculty aid on a smaller level, involving students in creative research and offering more service, internship and mentorship opportunities.
ù To finance health professionals’ education by putting more funds into the Academic Health Center.
ù To make the University more connected to the community around it. To do so, the University would apply the funding to the University Center-Rochester, the Virtual U program, enhancing University Extension Services and working with the University’s law clinics.
ù To promote a climate of quality service within the University to support teaching, research and outreach.
ù To provide competitive compensation for research, undergraduate education and to achieve better recognition for the University’s programs.
The House threw the University a curve ball when it recommended the University apply $5.3 million to course work at the University Center-Rochester.
“That was not part of (the University’s) original request and not part of the governor’s recommendation,” said Elizabeth Eull of the Office of Budget and Finance.
The higher education committee’s recommended appropriations total about $250 million, the rest of which has been divided between the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the Higher Education Services Office and the Mayo Medical School.
After the committee vote today, the measure will go to the House floor. A similar bill in the Senate is still being written.