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Bonding bill agreement reached
U would receive $111 million for construction and renovation projects
By Rick Moore
Published on April 1, 2005
On Wednesday, March 30, Governor Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders announced their agreement on an $886 million capital bonding bill for the state of Minnesota. Under the agreement, the University of Minnesota would receive more than $111 million in state funds for construction and renovation projects on its various campuses. The University's capital request was originally submitted to the Minnesota Legislature for the 2004 legislative session, but when an agreement could not be reached on a state bonding bill last year, the U resubmitted its request this session for $158 million in state contributions. Under the agreement, approved by the legislature's Capital Investment Conference Committee, the University would receive funding for all of the projects detailed in its request, including renovations to Kolthoff Hall, the Education Sciences Building (formerly the Mineral Resources Research Center), and Academic Health Center facilities on the Twin Cities campus; renovations to the Life Science Building and an addition to the Sports and Health Center on the Duluth campus; and a biomass heating plant addition and new football facility on the Morris campus. For each of those projects, the University will contribute one third of the costs for debt obligation. The University would also receive $40 million in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds, which are used for general repairs and maintenance projects. This was the only area in which the agreement falls short of the U's request; the University was seeking $90 million in HEAPR funding. In addition to the projects in the U's 2004 capital request, the agreement provides funding for two additional projects: a farm shop maintenance facility at the North Central Research and Outreach Center in Grand Rapids and a plant pathology research facility on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. "We're very pleased that the legislature and the governor worked together to come up with a bonding bill agreement," says Kathleen O'Brien, vice president for University Services, the unit that oversees construction projects at the U. "These funds will enable us to make some very necessary investments in our academic infrastructure. And this comes at a time when we'll be able to fully capitalize on the upcoming summer construction season." Both the House and Senate are expected to approve the bonding bill as early as next week, and it could be signed by Pawlenty within the following few days.