Today, the state Senate Finance Committee will be discussing the Senate’s bonding proposal, a bill that provides for repairs, renovations and replacements to publicly owned property every two years. The Senate’s proposal is a pathetic and short-sighted failure to invest in the state and especially in the University of Minnesota. The proposal is so bad for the University that it prompted Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, to call “the piddly little amount” for the University “embarrassing.” In the Senate’s proposal, the University would get $39 million of its $169.5 million request.
It simply makes no sense for the Senate, which is controlled by the GOP, to propose such a pitiful bonding bill — borrowing rates are extremely low right now and kicking the can down the road by delaying these projects will wind up costing more in the future. Just the University’s request by itself would create 4,000 jobs in Minnesota. President Eric Kaler was completely correct when he said, “this pattern of underinvestment will cripple the state’s most powerful economic engine while shifting even more of the financing burden to students.”
Bonding bill funds go directly to construction and repair projects, so there should be no worries about funds going to bloated administration or golden parachutes.
The Senate’s proposal is also bad for the rest of the state, lacking money for a renovation of Nicollet Mall and construction of a St. Paul Saints stadium that has the support of the business community, among other projects. Overall, the bill represents a terrible, short-sighted investment strategy that pinches pennies in the short term but hurts the state and especially the University in the long term.