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State Relations Updates

April 18, 2015

Higher ed omnibus bill passes Senate Finance Committee

On Tuesday, April 14, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee released its omnibus bill, Senate File 5. The bill provides $60 million for a tuition freeze and $25 million for the Medical School in the FY 2016-17 biennium. It also provides $2 million for the University of Minnesota and Mayo Foundation Partnership to award grants for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. The bill contains a few policy items of interest to the University of Minnesota:

Three University health sciences professors and clinicians joined Dr. Brooks Jackson, M.D., dean of the Medical School and vice president of health sciences, to testify in support of the investment in the Medical School. Read a statement on their testimony.

The committee passed the bill onto the Senate Finance Committee, where it was heard yesterday and also passed. The bill will likely be voted on the Senate floor next week.

House higher ed committee also passes omnibus bill

The House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee heard its omnibus bill on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The bill, House File 845, provides no new funding for the University of Minnesota in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The bill contains a couple of policy items of interest to the University:

On Wednesday, April 15, President Kaler testified on the bill, expressing his disappointment in the zero increase in funding. Read the statement. In addition, Minnesota Student Association director Drew Coveyou testified, underlining the financial costs students will bear without funding for a tuition freeze and a reduction in State Grant Program funding.

This bill will be heard next in the Ways and Means Committee on Monday, April 20. View a comparison of the governor, Senate, and House budget proposals.

Dean Ames testifies in Senate agriculture committee

On Wednesday, April 15, the Senate Jobs, Agriculture, and Economic Development Committee held an informational hearing on a highly pathogenic avian flu virus that has spread across Minnesota's turkey industry. Dean Trevor Ames, along with representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health, provided an update on the severity of the outbreak and the steps being taken to contain and eradicate the virus. This has become one of the top issues at the Legislature, as Minnesota is the number one turkey producing state in the country.

April 10, 2015

Governor Dayton releases bonding proposal

On Wednesday, April 8, Governor Dayton unveiled his 2015 bonding proposal. The $842 million proposal includes $100 million for the University of Minnesota system. President Kaler praised the proposed funding, which exceeds the University’s requested $77 million in capital projects. The governor’s proposal provides $70 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR), $18 million for the Veterinary Isolation Laboratories Replacement, and $4 million for the St. Paul Greenhouse Replacement. His bonding recommendations also include $8 million for planning and pre-design studies for health sciences professional educational facilities to replace antiquated training facilities, and new clinical research facilities to house medical discovery teams. View a comparison of the University’s and the governor’s proposals.

Because the legislature is focused on forming a biennial budget this session, it is uncertain whether it will pass a bonding bill this year.

Dean Ames testifies again in the Senate

Also on Wednesday, April 8, the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Committee heard a bill that would invest $9.8 million in 2016 and in 2017 for University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic laboratory equipment and facilities. College of Veterinary Medicine dean Trevor Ames testified in support of the bill and provided an overview of the services of the University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, including the increased pressure on those services due to the avian flu outbreak. The legislation was laid on the table for possible inclusion in the committee's omnibus budget bill.

Regenerative medicine funding

On Tuesday, April 7, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee heard a bill that would provide funding to increase the number of University researchers working on regenerative medicine. Dr. Jakub Tolar, director of the Stem Cell Institute, testified in support of the bill and provided a brief update on the work of the University of Minnesota/Mayo partnership in regenerative medicine. The bill was amended to provide $1.7 million each year in ongoing funding.

MArch 27, 2015

Senate and House spending targets

This week the Senate and the House of Representatives announced their spending targets for the 2016 – 2017 biennium. The Senate proposed to have the state's biennial budget set at $42.7 billion, the House proposed $42.6 billion while the governor proposed $43 billion. The target for higher education spending is positive under all three proposals; the Senate is seeking to add $205 million in spending, the House $53.4 million, and the governor $288.4 million.

The University is requesting an increase of $148.2 million for four priority areas over the next two years; tuition affordability at $65.2 million, Healthy Minnesota and medical school investment at $55.5 million, facility condition improvements at $15 million, and Vibrant Communities at $12.5 million. While grateful for the attention to higher education, President Kaler has said, "We will continue to push for more funding in our discussions with House and Senate leadership and the Governor's Office in the coming weeks."

Invasive species

A bill authored by Senator Kari Dziedzic providing for an additional $5 million in funding to fight against Invasive Terrestrial Plans and Pests was heard in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Budget Division. Brian Buhr, Dean, CFANS and Robert Venette, Executive Director, MN Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center and Adjunct Professor of Entomology, provided testimony in support of the bill saying how this additional money would help conduct research to prevent, minimize, and mitigate the threats of invasive plants, pathogens, and pests to the state's forests, wetlands, and agricultural resources.

Veterinary loan forgiveness

Senator Dan Sparks authored legislation to appropriate $500,000 to the commissioner of the Office of Higher Education for the large animal veterinarian loan forgiveness program. Dr. Laura Molgaard, College of Veterinary Medicine, testified in support of this bill in front of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Budget Division. Also providing testimony in support of the bill were two second-year veterinary medicine students, Ryan Strobel and Brady Myers.

Capital Investment

The University of Minnesota was asked to present its bonding priorities for the session. Brian Swanson, Assistant Vice President for University Services, and Monique MacKenzie, Director of Capital Planning Capital and Project Management, reminded the committee of the three priorities: $55 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR), $18 million for Veterinary Isolation Laboratories, and $4 million for St. Paul Greenhouse Replacement.

Incarcerated pregnant women

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill sponsored by Senator Katie Sieben on the needs of incarcerated women related to pregnancy and childbirth. Rebecca Shlafer, PhD, and Assistant Professor in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, testified in support of the bill. Dr. Shlafer has been educating others about the issues surrounding incarcerated parents and this legislation clarifies current law on the use of restraints on incarcerated women.

MArch 21, 2015

Kaler responds to legislative auditor’s report

On Thursday, March 19, President Kaler and Regent Patricia Simmons, M.D., testified in front of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee in response to the legislative auditor’s review of the Dan Markingson case. Kaler expressed his deepest sympathy to Dan Markingson’s mother and announced four steps the University will take to improve human subjects research practices. Read the news release.

Vice President for Research Brian Herman and Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical School Dean Brooks Jackson, M.D. also testified in front of the committee, providing background information and answering committee members’ questions. Professor Will Durfee, former chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee, presented the findings of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs report.

Governor’s revised budget released

On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Dayton released his revised budget proposal in response to the February forecast. As the governor announced on February 27, the revised proposal fully funds the University’s requested two-year tuition freeze and invests $30 million in the Medical School, for a total of $95.2 million. In a statement President Kaler responded, “I am thankful to Governor Dayton for his proposed investments in the University of Minnesota. We share a goal to maintain access and affordability for all qualified Minnesota students.”

The House and Senate are expected to release their budget targets next week.

First legislative deadline today

Yesterday marked the first legislative deadline. For a policy bill to continue in the legislative process, it must have been received a hearing in the House or Senate.

Sexual harassment and assault legislation

Over the past few weeks, the University has been working with the Senate and House authors of legislation relating to sexual harassment and assault. Among its other mandates, the bill would require postsecondary institutions to establish an online reporting system for sexual harassment and violence claims, provide comprehensive training for campus security officers and administrators, provide drug and alcohol amnesty for students who report sexual assault or violence, and designate confidential advocates for victims of sexual assault on each campus.

Minnesota Student Association president Joelle Stangler testified in support of this legislation, saying that the bill provides practical solutions to the issue of sexual assault that complement the progress that institutions like the University have already made. The bill passed and was sent to the Judiciary Committee. The House version of the legislation will likely be added to the higher education omnibus bill.

Concurrent enrollment legislation

On Wednesday, March 18, the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill that would allow ninth and tenth grade students to apply to enroll in a concurrent enrollment course at the discretion of the school district and the postsecondary institution providing the course. The bill exempts students not on track to graduate from limits on participation. The bill also provides funding for the Office of Higher Education and the Department of Education to develop and expand concurrent enrollment courses, disseminate information on dual-credit opportunities, and provide teacher training. Julie Williams, director of College in the Schools, and Susan Staats, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, testified in support of the legislation.

University PRIME Institute director testifies on pharmacy legislation

Yesterday in the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, Stephen Schondelmeyer, director of PRIME Institute in the College of Pharmacy, provided testimony in support of a bill that would require health plan companies and pharmacy benefit managers to allow enrollees to choose their pharmacy providers. The bill also requires health plan companies and pharmacy benefit managers to cover a service performed by pharmacists as long as the service is within the scope of the practice of the pharmacist and would be covered if a physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse performed the service.

March 6, 2015

Kaler presents budget request to Senate Higher Ed Committee

On Tuesday, March 3, the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee heard a bill that would invest $120.7 million in the University: $65.2 million in research; $25.5 million in the proposed Healthy Minnesota initiative; and $30 million in the Medical School. President Eric Kaler testified in support of the legislation and presented an overview of the University’s 2016-17 budget request. View the presentation and read the news release on the hearing.

Land O’Lakes Inc. president and CEO Chris Policinski also testified in support of the legislation and reinforced the value of the University to the state’s economy and workforce. Committee members received a letter signed by local business leaders, including the CEOs of Medtronic, US Bank, General Mills, Toro, and Marvin Windows, in support of the University's budget request.

The legislation was laid on the table for possible inclusion in the omnibus higher education bill.

Legislature elects five Regents

On Wednesday, March 4, a joint convention of the Legislature met to elect five members of the Board of Regents. Current Regents Richard Beeson (4th congressional district) and Patricia Simmons (1st congressional district) were re-elected, along with Darrin Rosha (3rd congressional district), who previously served on the board as a student representative. Michael Hsu (6th congressional district) and Thomas Anderson (7th congressional district) were elected for the first time.

Dean Ames testifies in House Ag Committee

On Tuesday, March 3, the House Agriculture Finance Committee heard legislator-initiated legislation that would invest $9.8 million in fiscal year 2016 and 2017 for University veterinary diagnostic laboratory equipment and facilities. College of Veterinary Medicine dean Trevor Ames testified in support of the bill and provided an overview of the current services of the University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Dean Ames explained how this legislation would allow the University to become preeminent in veterinary diagnostics worldwide. The legislation was laid on the table for possible inclusion in the omnibus agriculture bill.

February 27, 2015

Governor increases proposed funding for University by $32.5 million in response to forecast

This morning, Minnesota Management and Budget released the February forecast projecting a $1.869 billion surplus for FY 2016-17. This marks an increase of $832 million over the November forecast attributed to higher revenues and lower spending.

In response to the forecast, Governor Dayton released the following remarks: “Affordable higher education is also a crucial investment in our better future. The University of Minnesota has said that an additional $65 million will enable them to freeze tuitions for the next two school years. My present budget proposal would pay for half of it. I'll propose to fund the rest, at an additional cost of $32.5 million. In addition to the $30 million I have proposed to improve the medical school, my proposed additional funding for the University totals $95 million.”

In sum, the governor's new budget proposal increases funding for the University by $32.5 million.

Performance funding measures achieved

On Wednesday, February 25, the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee requested the University and MnSCU to present on progress made towards performance funding metrics. As you may recall, five performance funding measures for the University were signed into law in 2013:

The law required that 5% of the University's state appropriations for FY2015 would only become available when the University has met three out of five of the goals. Richard Pfutzenreuter, vice president and CFO; Julie Tonneson, associate vice president for Budget and Finance; and Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education provided a presentation showing that all five measures have been achieved. View the presentation.

Today, President Kaler sent a letter to committee members addressing questions asked during the hearing. Read the letter.

Ways and Means

On Monday, February 23, the House Ways and Means Committee requested the University to present on enrollment changes over the last decade, concurrent enrollment in post-secondary enrollment and college in our schools programs, composite financial index and appropriations over the last decade. Richard Pfutzenreuter, vice president and CFO, along with Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education provided testimony on behalf of the University. View the presentation.

Evening of Discovery

On Monday, February 23, the University hosted an Evening of Discovery, an event for legislators showcasing the research of the Academic Health Center. Students and researchers from the six schools of the AHC and MnDrive's Brain Conditions and Regenerative Medicine initiative discussed their work with legislators and underlined its value for the State of Minnesota. Dr. Brooks concluded the event by requesting the legislators' support the University's 2015 legislative request.

February 20, 2015

Kaler presents budget request to House Higher Ed

On Tuesday, February 17, President Kaler presented the University of Minnesota's biennial budget request before the House Higher Education Committee. Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical School dean Brooks Jackson and nursing professor and faculty legislative liaison Lyn Bearinger also testified in support of the request, which now includes a revised Healthy Minnesota and Medical School component. Representatives thanked Kaler for his presentation and had many follow-up questions.

Support the U Day

About 200 students from all five campuses rallied at Coffman Union on Thursday, February 12, as part of Support the U Day. Afterward the students participated in over 100 meetings with legislators at the Capitol, double the number of meetings from last year. Students encouraged legislators to support the University’s budget request, particularly the proposed two-year tuition freeze.

Legislative Action Kickoff

Earlier this month, almost 200 students, faculty, alumni, and staff gathered for the 2015 Legislative Briefing to learn about the University’s budget request and how to advocate for it at the State Capitol. During the pre-program reception, attendees mingled with students and faculty directly affected by the four budget request components. President Kaler addressed the crowd, along with Minnesota Student Association president Joelle Stangler. Attendees generated hundreds of postcards addressed to their legislators, asking for their support for the University this legislative session.

February 2, 2015

Governor Dayton proposes budget

On Tuesday, January 27, Governor Mark Dayton released his budget proposal for the 2016-17 biennium. The $42 billion proposal, which includes a projected $1 billion surplus, prioritizes education, particularly preK-12. The proposal includes $32.6 million toward the University of Minnesota's $65.2 million requested tuition freeze (half of the funds needed to freeze tuition for all students) and $30 million for the Medical School. Read the governor's proposal.

In a press release, President Kaler thanked Governor Dayton for his support of the University, while expressing his desire to build support in the Legislature for all four areas of the University's budget request.

Read this weekend’s Star Tribune editorial supporting Governor Dayton’s Medical School proposal.

Senate higher ed presentation concludes

Also on Tuesday, Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter and Associate Vice President Julie Tonneson finished presenting the biennial budget report before the Senate Higher Education and Work Force Development Committee. In addition, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster highlighted new graduation rate data in the report. The committee gave positive feedback about the University’s progress over the last two years.

Dr. Jackson provides second House overview presentation

Also on Tuesday, in the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, Dr. Brooks Jackson, dean of the Medical School and vice president for health sciences, presented on the Academic Health Center, the Healthy Minnesota budget request, and the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations. Janice Jaguszewski, director of the health sciences library, closed the hearing by presenting on the Minnesota Electronic Library provision in the Healthy Minnesota request.

University students and faculty testify on house higher ed

On Wednesday, January 28, the House Higher Education Committee invited students and faculty from Minnesota’s higher education institutions to testify on their session priorities. From the University, Minnesota Student Association president Joelle Stangler and Twin Cities Advocacy Corps director Ryan Olson testified in support of President Kaler’s proposed budget, particularly emphasizing the importance of the tuition freeze. Faculty legislative liaisons Lyn Bearinger and Gary Gardner also testified in support of the University’s budget request.

PIPELINE bill receives hearing

This week, the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee heard an update on the Minnesota PIPELINE Project, which stands for Private Investment Public Education Labor Industry Experience. In 2014, the Minnesota Legislature created the project with the goal of developing apprenticeships in key growth areas such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture, health care services, and information technology. The Office of University Economic Development’s executive director Maura Donovan and program director Sabine Engel testified in support of legislation that would fund the Minnesota PIPELINE Project.

January 26, 2015

Dayton announces med school proposal

On Wednesday, January 21, Governor Mark Dayton proposed a major new investment in the University of Minnesota Medical School. The proposal would allow the University to hire 50 more medical researchers over the next eight years, address Minnesota’s looming shortage of doctors statewide, secure new grants, and support medical innovation and job creation. Governor Dayton’s proposal is based on the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Committee and will be included in Governor Dayton's 2015 budget proposal. Read Governor Dayton’s press release.

University officials provide overview presentations to House Higher Ed

On Tuesday, January 20, Dr. Brooks Jackson, Dean of the Medical School and Vice President for Health Sciences, and Provost Karen Hanson testified in front of the House Higher Education Committee. Provost Hanson presented on what makes the University a land-grant university, how the university is different from MnSCU, how each campus is unique, and the university’s impact on the state. View the presentation.

Dr. Jackson’s overview of the Academic Health Center (AHC) acquainted members with the schools, colleges and programs that make up the AHC as well as the range of research within the AHC. View the presentation. Between the November elections and the change in leadership in the House, this committee has a significant number of new members and the purpose of this presentation was to familiarize new members with the U.

2015 Capital Request

On Thursday, January 22, Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock presented the University’s 2015 Capital Request to the House Capital Investment Committee. House members watched the request video and then listened to a detailed presentation on the University’s three proposed projects. View the presentation.

Updates provided to Senate Higher Ed

Also on Thursday, January 22, University officials were requested by the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee to present on several ongoing initiatives. First, Vice President for Research Brian Herman gave on update on MnDRIVE, a research initiative funded by the legislature in 2013. To date, MnDRIVE has led to 173 hires, 120 funded projects, and 31 patents, disclosures and intellectual property.

Next, Vice President for Human Resources Kathryn Brown presented an update on University initiatives stemming from last year’s Sibson and Huron reports, including changes in the human resource management system and job family study. Finally, Vice President and CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter and his staff reported the University’s achievement of all five performance measures specified in session law. The committee ran out of time due to many senators’ questions. The presentation will be continued on Tuesday.

Star Tribune: “U, higher ed deserve a boost at State Capitol”

Star Tribune editorial writer Lori Sturdevant sat down with President Kaler two weeks ago to review the U's legislative request. Read the resulting opinion piece from Sunday, January 18, which articulates the value of a research university and advocates for increased higher education funding this session.

Legislative deadlines announced

Last week, the House and Senate agreed upon the following legislative deadlines:
Friday, March 20: committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin
Friday, March 27: committees must act favorably on bills, or companion bills, which met the first deadline in the other house
Friday, April 24: the House Committee on Ways & Means and the Senate Committee on Finance must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills

Governor’s budget to be announced January 27

Governor Mark Dayton will release his budget on Tuesday. In addition to investment in the University of Minnesota Medical School, the budget is anticipated to include significant funding for transportation and $516 million for children through early and K-12 education, human services, and child care tax credits. The governor is expected to release a supplemental budget after the February economic forecast.

The Office of Government and Community Relations is poised to respond and advocate for the U’s 2016-17 Budget Request through the Legislative Action Network. Join the Legislative Action Network.

January 16, 2015

Press briefing at the Capitol

On Tuesday, January 13, University of Minnesota leaders outlined the benefits of the U of M's 2016-17 biennial budget request at two media events. In the morning, KSTP, KARE 11, and MPR visited campus to learn about the “Access and Affordability” and “Healthy Minnesota” initiatives.

Later, at the State Capitol, President Kaler discussed all four aspects of the proposal in a press briefing. Here is some of the coverage:

Also, on Wednesday, January 14, the Star Tribune published a great article on the U of M’s research.

Kaler meets with Dayton

On Monday, January 12, President Kaler met with Governor Mark Dayton and his staff at the governor's residence. President Kaler presented the University of Minnesota's priorities for the upcoming legislative session. In addition, President Kaler and Governor Dayton discussed the upcoming recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Medical School, chaired by Commissioner Larry Pogemiller of the Office of Higher Education.

Governor Dayton reiterated his support for higher education and the U of M's success. Governor Dayton will release his proposed budget on January 27.

Legislative hearings begin for higher ed

The House Higher Education Committee met this week to receive an overview of the committee’s jurisdiction and to hear introductions from new members. The committee’s nonpartisan staff presented on the higher education budget and policy issues, along with recent data and trends for the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the Office of Higher Education. The Office of Higher Education also presented on its duties and responsibilities as the agency responsible for administrating the state's financial aid programs and licensure of private and career schools, among other activities.

The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee held a hearing on action items resulting from the North Star Summit, which took place in December. The summit convened public and private stakeholders to identify common goals for Minnesota’s higher education system to meet the state’s workforce needs.

January 9, 2015

2015 legislative session convenes

The 89th legislative session kicked off on Tuesday, January 6. The House is now led by a Republican majority and a DFL minority. As expected, Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) was elected House speaker, and Rep. Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis) was elected by his caucus as the minority leader. Since the Senate did not face reelection last November, no changes to leadership in either caucus were necessary. Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Lori Gildea administered the oath of office to the 134 members of the House, including the 26 newly elected representatives.

Both parties held press conferences to announce their top priorities for 2015. The Senate DFL’s top six bills are focused on Greater Minnesota and workforce education. The House GOP’s bills are focused on five areas: jobs, K-12 education, elder care, transportation, and health care. While their priorities are not identical, they are similar in theme.

Governor inauguration

Governor Dayton and the other constitutional officers were sworn in on Monday, January 5, at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. In his inaugural address, Governor Dayton highlighted the importance of education to Minnesota's economic health and specifically mentioned higher education investments. At the conclusion of the inauguration ceremony, U of M Law School alum and Supreme Court justice Alan Page introduced the Minnesota Rouser.

Read Governor Dayton’s 2015 Inaugural Address.

Floyd and Little Brown Jug visit the State Capitol

Athletic director Norwood Teague was invited by Representative Dean Urdahl (R-Litchfield) to bring the Little Brown Jug and Floyd of Rosedale to the House Chamber this week. This is the first time the U of M has possessed both trophies since 1967. Teague was introduced on the House floor by Representative Urdahl and held up the jug for all to see. The legislators then had the opportunity to have photos taken with the trophies in the retiring room behind the House chamber.

Legislation introduced

In the session’s first week the House and Senate introduced 60 and 55 bills respectively. Approximately 20 of those bills may impact the U of M. Government Relations will track new bills throughout the legislative process and notify U of M stakeholders who may be affected.

Governor's committee releases draft report on the Medical School

The final meeting of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee on the University of Minnesota Medical School was held on Thursday, January 8. The governor has charged the committee to provide a report with specific policy and budget recommendations to be considered during the 2015 legislative session. This week the committee reviewed and provided input on the draft report. Discussion occurred as to whether the U of M’s biennial request should be included within the report or marked as a separate category from the two listed above. The request will be included in the report. A final draft of the report reflecting the committee’s discussion will be distributed to members of the committee by midweek next week, and the governor is expected to announce his decision on the recommendations in his biennial budget release on January 27.

Legislative Action Kickoff

Join your hosts, University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler and Alumni Association board chair Jim DuBois on February 3 to learn about issues that will affect the U of M during the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session and to discover ways you can help. No previous political or legislative knowledge required. Complimentary light refreshments will be available. RSVP.

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.