U President Kaler outlines budget request for state lawmakers

The requests includes a $147.2 million increase in state funding for University initiatives.

by Max Chao

The University of Minnesota is asking the new GOP-led state Legislature for a more than 11 percent increase in state funding over the biennium this session.

At a state Capitol press conference Tuesday University President Eric Kaler, saying he was ready to move past recent Gophers football team controversies, outlined a nearly $1.4 billion request. The request includes a $147.2 million boost in state spending for University initiatives.

Kaler said the University’s request covers three areas: student success and affordability, research, and “unfinished business.”

For student success and affordability, the University wants $90.2 million from the state to advance STEM education, increase undergraduate retention and graduation rates, enroll more in-state minority students and minimize tuition hikes, among others.

At the press conference, University junior Lauren Twomey advocated for an increase in funding for the students.

“By increasing resources like career services programs, academic planning and tutoring, more students will graduate on time, and tuition costs will be kept low,” she said.

The University also wants state money to help fund school research programs, like the MnDRIVE initiative and Natural Resource Resarch Institute. The university also is asking the state to help pay for cancer research, clean water, and develop data technology across Minnesota.

The University’s request also includes funding for “unfinished business,” which includes spending on health training and programs previously covered by UCare, as well as programs for the Bell Museum.

The University also wants the Legislature to provide over $245 million this session for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement projects and six other infrastructure initiatives.

Gov. Mark Dayton recommended earlier this month that the school receive nearly $155 million of that request. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have yet to release their recommendations.