UMN HEAPR request partially funded in first version of House bonding bill

The House Capital Investment committee released the first bonding bill proposal Friday, which funds $40 million of the University’s $200 million request.

Madeline Deninger

The University of Minnesota would receive roughly $160 million less than it asked for in its 2018 capital request under a bonding bill released by House Republicans on Wednesday. 

The $825 million public works proposal, which would fund just over $78 million of the University’s $238.5 million request, was passed by the House Capital Investment committee on Friday. This includes $40 million of the University’s $200 million Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement request. 

The bill would fully fund the University’s Pillsbury Hall and Glensheen Mansion renovation requests, as well as a $10.5 million request to renovate and renew coordinate campus classrooms and laboratories. 

“It’s good to see that Pillsbury is moving forward,” University Regent Darrin Rosha said. “It seems the focus has been more on specific projects rather than HEAPR.”  

University President Eric Kaler voiced support of the school’s HEAPR request on Twitter and urged the Legislature to include more funding for it in the final bill. 

House Republicans’ $825 million bill is far less than the $1.5 billion bonding package released by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in January, which proposed nearly $300 million in capital funding for the University. 

Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, chair of the House Capital Investment committee, said the bill was a good investment of the House’s spending targets.

“The goal with this bill was to be very heavy on infrastructure: brick and mortar and asset preservation,” he said during the Capital Investment committee meeting. 

Urdahl said while the University’s HEAPR request was not fully funded, lawmakers took the school’s priorities into consideration. There were more than $4 billion in public works requests to the Legislature, he said, and they could not fit them all into the bill. 

“In terms of what we did, there were three projects for priorities, and I included those into the bill,” he said. “Essentially, that’s asset preservation. In a way, HEAPR dollars are not all in HEAPR funding.” 

The House bonding bill was referred to the House Ways and Means committee. Senate Republicans have yet to release their proposal.