Kaler: State bonding proposal is inadequate, harmful

Last week during a MnSCU board meeting, I tweeted Chancellor Steven Rosenstone's statement of "disappointment" over the amount of funding the legislature is considering for campus maintenance and improvements.

Looks like University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler is joining him, saying the pattern of low state funding could "cripple" its higher education:

U of M President Kaler fights for funding equity in bonding bill

The following is a statement by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler in response to capital bonding bills proposed by the House last week and the Senate this morning.

“I am deeply concerned that the Legislature’s poor funding for the University of Minnesota will have grave impacts on our students and the university’s contributions to the state,” Kaler said. “The House and Senate funding levels are woefully inadequate to meet critical needs. They harm our ability to modernize our aging infrastructure and reduce our cost of operations. They deny our students the tools to help prepare them to succeed in a global marketplace. Ultimately, this pattern of under-investment will cripple the state’s most powerful economic engine while shifting even more of the financing burden to students.”

The university is requesting $169.5 million in this year’s bonding bill. Of the university’s request, the House and Senate proposals fund $39.1 million. Earlier this legislative session, Governor Dayton recommended the Legislature fund $78.1 million of the request. The governor’s recommendation provided for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR), and funding for the Itasca Biological Station and the Combined Heat and Power Plant.

“Among the university’s three projects not included in the Legislature’s proposal, I am particularly disappointed that the Legislature has not recognized the dire need to build a Combined Heat and Power Plant,” Kaler said. “This new multi-utility plant would serve 163 buildings and protect hundreds of millions of dollars of the state’s most advanced research activities.”

The university manages 28 million square feet of property statewide and more than 70 percent of its facilities are more than 30 years old. The University of Minnesota’s bonding request represents shovel-ready projects that will advance the state’s only public research institution, its students and its economic impact while creating at least 4,000 jobs for Minnesotans. Full funding of the university’s request is critical to its ability to utilize space efficiently and protect Minnesotans’ previous investments.

President Kaler will continue to work with the House, Senate and Governor Dayton to fully fund critical building and infrastructure projects that will create jobs and enhance the educational experience for university students.


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