Making tough choices

University administrators should be ready to make sacrifices as lawmakers decide its funding.

Editorial board

 

Selling an 8.4 percent increase in funding for the University of Minnesota in the middle of a $1.1 billion state budget shortfall is no small task. Add to that the recent media criticism of the University’s administrative costs and the likelihood that it will receive its requested $1.2 billion from the state decreases.

Though Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget includes an $80 million increase in funding for the University, legislators are calling for the administration to answer tough questions before deciding how much the state should invest in the University.

Two senators requested the University conduct a short-term analysis to determine whether it has an administrative bloat problem and report to the Legislature by March 15.

Despite the heat, University President Eric Kaler has remained optimistic about the University’s proposal to the Legislature. In an interview with the Minnesota Daily last week, Kaler said working with lawmakers in light of The Wall Street Journal article is “a great opportunity to talk about what the University is doing.”

However, one legislator criticized all of this talk earlier this week.

“The University of Minnesota has apparently no problem, in the course of any legislative session, showing us how successful it has been in any given area,” said Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona. “Where it appears to have great difficulty is showing us where it’s had to make tough choices.”

While Kaler and other University administrators have become regulars at the Capitol and cooperated with the state Legislature, we agree that the message needs to be less about the “ra-ra … glittering, sparkling snowflakes” of the University. Instead, the administration needs to work with lawmakers to take an honest look at the University’s finances and its needs.

It is only through an honest and thorough analysis that the best budget decision can be made for students and Minnesotans.