Walz’s budget proposal partially funds University request

Gov. Tim Walz is proposing less than half of the University’s $87 million biennial budget proposal.

Gov. Tim Walz greets staff before he announced the state budget proposal at the Minnesota Department of Revenue building on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Tony Saunders

Gov. Tim Walz greets staff before he announced the state budget proposal at the Minnesota Department of Revenue building on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Madeline Deninger

DFL Gov. Tim Walz rolled out his biennial budget proposal Tuesday, which included less than half of the University of Minnesota’s request. 

Walz’s budget proposes a $39.2 million increase in base state appropriations for the University over the next two fiscal years. University President Eric Kaler presented the school’s “modest” $87 million budget request to lawmakers last month. 

“Gov. Tim Walz’s funding proposal for the University of Minnesota is appreciated tremendously, but will create challenges because it is less than what is needed,” Kaler wrote in a statement. “Our budget request this session is restrained, but deeply important. We are asking for an $87 million increase in state support for our biennial budget.” 

At a press conference last month, Kaler stated resident undergraduate students on the Twin Cities campus could see a tuition increase of about 2 percent if the full request is met. Kaler said a partial allocation could result in a sharper tuition hike. 

Minnesota Office of Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson said the budget proposal emphasizes college affordability through its investments in the University and the state grant program. According to a press release, state grant recipients will see an average increase of $300 with the current proposal. 

“The governor’s investment in the state grant program gets more money to students on the front end, so we really want to make sure students have as much of the tuition and fees covered to attend the University of Minnesota and ultimately have to borrow less,” Olson said. “That coupled with the additional investment in the University of Minnesota system may mean based on the budget availability a modest increase, but that’s for the president and the regents to decide.”   

Walz also laid out allocation totals for his bonding bill proposal. This includes $150 million of the University’s $232 million request. Walz’s proposal would fully fund the Institute of Child Development building replacement and renovations to A.B. Anderson Hall on the Duluth campus. The proposal would also allocate $117.7 million of the University’s $200 million Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding request. 

“By maximizing the life of facilities that serve students, faculty and staff systemwide, the bonding bill will keep the state at the forefront of emerging knowledge and educate the leaders of tomorrow,” Walz said at a press conference Tuesday.