Despite choppy political seas, the University is setting sail on a course it plotted months ago with its biennial budget.
Administrators at the University will ask the state Legislature for $1.28 billion in January to run the institution for the next two years. In addition, officials will also submit another multimillion-dollar request to fund specific construction and renovation projects across campus.
The Board of Regents approved the biennial budget request and discussed the capital request for construction at their monthly meeting Thursday.
Although the election of Jesse Ventura as governor and the new Republican dominance of the state House of Representatives might affect the University’s funding, officials don’t yet know how.
“It’s too early to tell,” said Regent Robert Bergland. “Much of it depends on Gov.-elect Ventura’s recommendations.”
The biennial request passed as previously written without discussion from board members. The request concentrates on five areas: competitive compensation for University faculty, enriching the undergraduate experience, financing health professional education, connecting the University to the surrounding communities and continuing the “Beautiful U” initiative.
Riding a wave of confidence from last year’s generous legislative funding, the regents also discussed an additional request to fund various construction and renovation projects.
The supplemental request will focus on continuing efforts to improve undergraduate education, cultivating the University’s plant and microbial genomics and technology transfer and funding the school’s recreational sports fields.
However, that supplemental request will not be a priority because capital requests are normally considered on years between biennial requests. If money is left over from the state’s coffers after other budgeting priorities are met, the University has a slim chance of getting construction funding.
University President Mark Yudof said he expected strong legislative support for the plant genomics request, but less for the undergraduate education initiative.
If the proposal isn’t successful this session, the projects in it will definitely appear again next session, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, associate vice president of Budget and Finance.
Topping the request list was undergraduate education; specifically, the request asks for $15 million to go toward Nicholson Hall renovations.
The request also included a $2.2 million initiative to break ground on the St. Paul campus for a plant and microbial genomics center and for initiatives to transfer that technology with Minnesota industries.