Officials: U needs state funds for repairs

Hank Long

The state House Higher Education Finance Committee will likely advocate for an increase to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s University capital bonding proposal, the committee’s chairman said Monday.

Chairman Doug Stang, R-Cold Spring, said it is difficult to tell where the committee will settle between the University’s $155.5 million request and Pawlenty’s $76.6 million proposal.

Stang said the committee will make its final recommendation to the House in May.

University chief financial officer Richard Pfutzenreuter and Vice President for University Services Kathleen O’Brien told the committee Monday that the University’s request needs to be fully funded so the school can repair and expand buildings.

“This is a very modest request that focuses on taking care of what we already have,” Pfutzenreuter said.

The University requested money for its general repair fund and for repairs to the Education Sciences Building and Kolthoff Hall. It also requested funding for the Carlson School of Management’s expansion and classroom planning and the expansion of the Academic Health Center.

Pfutzenreuter and O’Brien said they were disappointed in the governor’s 58 percent decrease of the University’s general repair request and his cut of the funding request for the Carlson School and the Academic Health Center expansions.

O’Brien said the governor’s cut will end up costing the University in the long run.

But Pfutzenreuter said he was satisfied that Pawlenty kept most of the University’s request to fund repairs for Kolthoff Hall and the Education Sciences Building.

Rep. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, is authoring a bill to fully fund the University’s request.

Latz, a committee member, said Pawlenty needs to make education his top priority.