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U hopes for good bonding experience with legislature
By Rick Moore
From M, spring 2006
As this issue of M was going to press, the 2006 Minnesota State Legislature was preparing to meet and exchange election-year pleasantries for the first time. At the top of its agenda is determining the state's bonding bill--which provides assistance for building and renovation projects for public entities, including the University of Minnesota.
This year, the University is seeking $206.1 million from the state to maintain and update existing facilities and to build a number of new buildings. Counting its own contribution of one-third the cost of new construction, the U's total 2006 capital request is for $269.1 million.
As is usually the case, the largest portion ($80 million) of the U's request is for what's known as "HEAPR," or Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement; in other words, building upkeep and upgrades. HEAPR funds will be used for nearly 150 projects spanning health and safety improvements, building system improvements, and utility infrastructure.
Advocate for the
Alumni and supporters of the University of Minnesota are encouraged to join the Legislative Network. By joining the network, volunteers learn how they can encourage legislators to support the U's capital request. To join the Legislative Network, visit www.supporttheU.umn.edu.
Two other new buildings are proposed for the Twin Cities campus: a Science Teaching and Student Services Center ($62 million), which would be located on the site of the current Science Classroom Building at the head of the Washington Avenue Bridge; and a Medical Biosciences Building ($60 million), which would be constructed adjacent to the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and allow for the expansion of crucial research programs.
The request also includes $4.2 million in funding for three research centers and field stations: the Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Cloquet Forestry Center, and West Central Regional Outreach Center.
In mid-January, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his recommendations for the state's bonding bill, which covered $127.6 million of the U's $206.1 million request. Pawlenty's recommendation would provide only half of the U's request for HEAPR, would not provide any funding for research centers and field stations, and would fund only $4.3 million in planning costs of the new biosciences building.
The governor's recommendation serves as a starting point for the Minnesota Legislature. The House and Senate will now develop their own versions of a bonding bill, which will then be reconciled into one and sent to Pawlenty for approval.
"We're pleased the governor is supporting some very important, strategic investments in our students," says President Bob Bruininks. "His bonding bill is a good start, and we look forward to working with the legislature to build on it."