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State Relations Updates

December 5, 2014

State budget forecast released

Yesterday, Minnesota Management and Budget released the state budget forecast, projecting a $1.037 billion budget surplus for the 2016-17 biennium without inflation. A surplus of $373 million is also forecasted for the end of fiscal year 2015. Increased income tax revenues and decreased health and human services spending are the biggest contributors to the surplus.

At a press conference, Governor Dayton said his budget proposal to the legislature will likely include funding for child care tax credits, rural broadband expansion, and early childhood scholarships. He also stated the he does not see a need for increased taxes, except possibly for transportation.

As you may recall, the University of Minnesota is requesting a $127.2 million increase for its FY 2016-17 biennial budget, and $77 million for three capital projects. Read President Kaler’s comments on the forecast.

House committee chairs and schedule announced

Last week, the incoming Republican House majority released its committee schedule and committee chairs for the upcoming biennium. As stated in a press release, more than half of the 26 committees will be chaired by representatives of Greater Minnesota. View the committee schedule.

The Senate is expected to also release a new committee schedule to the State Capitol renovation.

November 7, 2014

GOP wins back majority in the Minnesota House; Governor Dayton reelected

On Tuesday, Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) was re-elected, while Republicans took control of the Minnesota House. The DFL will retain control of all constitutional offices, including a new secretary of state, former State Rep. Steve Simon. Minnesota Republicans defeated 11 DFL incumbents (10 in Greater Minnesota, 1 in the suburbs) while holding on to all of their own seats to gain a 72-62 majority. The 11 Republican pick-ups are as follows:

2A – Dave Hancock (vs. Erickson)
10A – Joshua Heintzman (vs. Ward)
10B – Dale Lueck (vs. Radinovich)
11B – Jason Rarick (vs. Faust)
12A – Jeff Backer (vs. McNamar)
14B – Jim Knoblach (vs. Dorholt)
17A – Tim Miller (vs. Falk)
17B – Dave Baker (vs. Sawatsky)
24B – Brian Daniels (vs. Fritz)
27A – Peggy Bennett (vs. Savick)
56B – Roz Peterson (vs. Morgan)

There will be a total of 26 new faces in the House. The following 15 candidates were elected to open seats:

7A – Jennifer Schultz, DFL
19B – Jack Considine, DFL
20A – Bob Vogel, R
26B – Nels Pierson, R
30B – Eric Lucero, R
34B – Dennis Smith, R
35A – Abigail Whelan, R
44B – Jon Applebaum, DFL
46B – Cheryl Youakim, DFL
47A – Jim Nash, R
53B – Kelly Fenton, R
55A – Bob Loonan, R
56A – Drew Christensen, R
58A – Jon Koznick, R
64B – Dave Pinto, DFL

Yesterday, the House DFL elected Paul Thissen as its minority leader. Today, Republicans elected Kurt Daudt as speaker and Joyce Peppin as majority leader. Committee chairs and membership will be assigned in the weeks to come. In addition to the organizational decisions for both caucuses, another round of musical chairs will ensue as the new Republican majority swaps offices with the new DFL minority in the State Office Building.

The Minnesota Senate was not on the ballot this year, so its current leadership and committee memberships are expected to remain unchanged.

The 2015 session begins on Tuesday, January 6.

OCtober 29, 2014

State relations team prepares for 2015 legislative session

On October 10, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to approve President Kaler’s 2016-17 Biennial Budget Request and 2015 Capital Request. The budget request includes four initiatives:

Learn more about the biennial budget request.

The 2015 Capital Request includes three projects:

Learn more about the capital request.

The state relations team has already begun to meet with elected officials and staff about these requests. A new legislature will convene in January and consider the University’s budget and capital requests.

Biennial budget request presented to state officials

President Kaler and Vice President Brooks Jackson presented the University of Minnesota's budget request last week to Commissioner Schowalter of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), Commissioner Pogemiller of the Office of Higher Education, Commissioner of Revenue Myron Frans, Governor's Dayton’s staff, and several MMB staff members. The presentation offered an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with these key members of the governor's administration about the details of the University's request and the thought behind its various initiatives.

President Kaler offered his vision on the budget request, emphasizing the critical role the University plays in the health and vitality of Minnesota. He explained how each component of the request builds on University strengths. The governor’s staff will provide recommendations to the governor in late December. View the presentation.

2014 Big Ten Government and Community Relations Conference

Our office hosted the annual Big Ten Government and Community Relations Conference, October 15-17. Participants shared information on what is occurring at the community, state, and federal levels. The conference included panel discussions on issues such as the sustainability of higher education, the achievement gap, and the return on investment for states that have a research institution, as well as the hot-button issue of college athletics.

House candidates respond to UMAA survey

As it is election season, the University of Minnesota’s Alumni Association (UMAA) invited all Minnesota State House candidates to participate in a survey on higher education issues. While UMAA does not endorse candidates, the purpose of the survey is to inform University supporters of candidates’ positions on issues such as higher education funding and research. View the candidates’ responses.

October 1, 2014

Election Day is November 4

Elections for a U.S. Senate seat, the gubernatorial seat, and all 134 seats in the Minnesota House of Representatives will be held on November 4. The House is currently controlled by the DFL with a 73-61 majority; however, control of the House has swung between the two parties in the last two elections. This election again looks like it will be very close for at least 20 house seats, meaning that control of the House is very much in play. It will be an exciting election night.

Government and Community Relations will send out an update with results shortly after the election. In the following weeks, our office will focus on educating new legislators about the University of Minnesota and its priorities. The Legislature will convene again on January 6, 2015.

The Minnesota Senate is not up for reelection until 2016.

Legislative Staff Day

On Thursday, September 25, the government relations team hosted 40 federal and state legislative staffers for a full day on the Twin Cities campus to learn about teaching and research innovations. During the first half of the day, legislative staff toured the Medical Devices Center, the Visible Heart Lab, and the Academic Health Center Simulation Center. After lunch, One Stop staff presented on the services they provide students regarding registration, financial aid, billing, payment, student records, and veterans benefits. Then legislative staff learned about interactive learning and toured the active classrooms in STSS. The day capped off with a tour of TCF Bank Stadium and a visit from Goldy.

Advocacy at the Minnesota State Fair

Once again this year, staff and student volunteers teamed up to promote civic engagement at the Legislative Action Network booth in the University of Minnesota building at the State Fair. Visitors to the booth learned about the network and how to help support the University's legislative request. In total, 174 individuals signed up to become members of the Legislative Action Network, and over 50 people registered to vote.