Build a bigger bonding bill

Dayton’s bonding bill proposal gives the University short shrift.

Daily Editorial Board

On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton released his proposal for a $775 million bonding bill âÄî a bill that funds construction and repair projects around the state âÄî for the 2012 legislative session. The University of Minnesota had requested about $170 million from the state, but DaytonâÄôs proposal would give it a disappointing $78 million, most of which would go to fund the renovation of the Old Main Utility Building.
Much of the disappointment comes from the state granting only a fraction of the UniversityâÄôs request for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funds, which go to miscellaneous repair and construction projects around campus. The UniversityâÄôs request was a suspiciously round $90 million dollars and an equally round $20 million was granted. The University could have made a stronger, more detailed case for more HEAPR funding.
But DaytonâÄôs proposal is not the end of the line. He will work with the state legislature to come up with a final bill during the 2012 legislative session, one that we hope remains large and increases money for the University.
At this moment, passing a large bonding bill rather than delaying construction and repair projects is the fiscally responsible decision. Interest rates and borrowing costs are extremely low, so it is cheaper to start these projects now than it would be in the future. Furthermore, elements of the bonding bill take advantage of federal, local and private fund-matching, which means that DaytonâÄôs proposal will actually pump about $1.5 billion in long-term investment into the state. The largest possible bonding bill will be financially prudent, good for the state, good for the economy and jobs and good for the University.