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The U has put forward its biennial budget and capital requests to the Minnesota State Legislature. For fiscal year 2007, state appropriations represented 25 percent of the U's budgeted revenues.

U makes push for increased state funding

Biennial budget and capital requests to be considered by legislature

By Rick Moore

From Brief, Jan. 17, 2007

Editor's note: On Jan. 22 Gov. Tim Pawlenty released his biennial budget recommendations for the state, which includes $90.4 million for the U.

The University of Minnesota has an ambitious and tangible plan to increase its competitiveness among the world's top research universities.

Now University officials are turning to the Minnesota State Legislature for the funding support necessary to both sustain the U's current quality and competitiveness and, indeed, invest in the University's plan to become one of the top public research universities in the world.

The U's biennial budget request (for fiscal years 2008 and 2009) calls for a state investment of $123.4 million for the biennium. Coupled with a 1 percent reallocation of University resources and a proposed 4.5 percent tuition increase for students, the total investment for the biennium would be $192.3 million.

The biennial budget request is organized around two categories: sustaining quality and competitiveness and "creating Minnesota's future."

For sustaining quality and competitiveness, the primary component ($69.5 million) is general compensation for faculty and staff, since the U is a people-driven institution and almost two-thirds of the U's annual operating budget is devoted to salaries. The other components are advancing education ($26.4 million)--through efforts such as an undergraduate writing initiative and expanded academic advising and undergraduate research opportunities--technology and infrastructure ($7.1 million) and facilities, operations and maintenance ($31.5 million), which the U will finance on its own.

An insider's look at the legislative requests

Join President Bob Bruininks and supporters of the U for the 2007 Legislative Briefing and Reception Jan. 24. You'll get an inside look at the University of Minnesota's 2007 legislative requests, and learn how to be an effective advocate for the U. The event is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the McNamara Alumni Center on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. A light dinner will be served.

RSVP by Jan. 18 online or by calling 612-625-8739.

There will be two additional opportunities to learn about the legislative requests and become an advocate for the U: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 30 in the President's Room at Coffman Union, or 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 31 in the Minnesota Commons Room of the St. Paul Student Center. No registration is necessary for either event.

The "creating Minnesota's future" part of the request is designed to enable the U to enhance the future economic vitality of the state, as well as take its place as one of the preeminent research universities in the world. It has four components:

Competitive compensation ($18.7 million): Competition is fierce for the most elite educators and researchers. These funds would address market pressures and help the U recruit and retain world-class faculty and staff.

Health workforce and clinical sciences ($19.1 million): This investment would address the continuing shortage of advanced-practice nurses in the state and the critical shortage of allied health professionals.

Science and engineering ($11.5 million): These funds would help the U invest in a medical device center, in neuroscience and nanotechnology and in the creation of a civil engineering program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Environment, agricultural systems and renewable energy ($8.4 million): In addition to helping the University ensure food safety and animal and human health, these funds will help fund the U's new Institute on the Environment.

Maintaining momentum with the Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority

In addition to the biennial budget request, the University is also advancing a two-part capital request.

Last year the University introduced a groundbreaking plan to increase Minnesota's competitiveness in the biomedical sciences--the area where medicine meets the latest in science and technology. Minnesota has traditionally been a leader in the biomedical sciences--and the University of Minnesota, with its myriad medical breakthroughs, has been the driver of discovery in the state.

This year the University is again asking the legislature to authorize the Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority, an entity that would steer the investment of $310 million in the biomedical sciences over the next decade.

The plan would allow the U the ability to construct approximately 600,000 square feet (about 150,000 square feet every other year) in technologically sophisticated research space. These buildings--including the Biomedical Sciences Building approved by the legislature last year--would allow the U to house 40 faculty and 120 research staff in each building. The University also anticipates that each building would generate at least $20 million in new grant money, which is critical in stimulating Minnesota's economy.

In addition to the Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority, the U is submitting a supplemental request for HEAPR--Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement. HEAPR funds go toward building systems and health and safety improvements, and the U is asking the state for $22 million to cover necessary improvements at the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth and Morris campuses and at regional outreach centers around the state.

To learn more about the U's biennial budget request or capital request, visit the Office of Government and Community Relations Web site.