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State Relations Updates

2009 Session Updates

May 18, 2009

Late Saturday evening, Governor Pawlenty signed the higher education bill. There were several line item vetoes, but nothing that affects the University. The bill is available here and the veto message from the governor is available here. At the request of House of Representatives Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President Bruininks and Chancellor McCormick testified Saturday regarding potential additional budget reductions, as proposed by the governor (see below), to the University and MnSCU before the Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy.

Governor Pawlenty also signed the bonding bill Saturday evening after removing $85 million from the bill. The Bell Museum of Natural History was one of the line item vetoes. Governor Pawenty's letter to legislative leadership explaining the vetoes is available here. Now that nearly all of the budget bills have been signed, the state is still facing a $3 billion deficet for FY2010-11. Governor Pawlenty has sent a budget solution offer to the DFL leaders to balance the budget that includes a $1.8 bilion K-12 payment shift to the FY2012-13 biennium and an additional $1 billion in overall budget reductions; higher education would receive $150 million of those budget cuts. The leadership is willing to accept the governor's K-12 budget shift proposal; however, they would like to see $1 billion in new revenues and they refuse to make additional cuts.

Constitutionally, the legislature must adjourn at midnight tonight. If no agreement is reached by then, the governor claims he will not call a special session. Rather, he will use executive order to unallot in an effort to balance the budget. If that does indeed happen, it is assumed the University will face large budget reductions.

Legislative leadership is meeting with the governor at noon today to continue their negotiation talks in an attempt to reach a budget agreement.

May 13, 2009

Yesterday, the conference committees for the capital bonding bill and the higher education budget bill completed their work. Below is a short summary of both bills. It is assumed that the governor will sign the higher education bill. As of this writing, the higher education bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote on the House floor this afternoon, and the bonding bill has passed out of both bodies and is on its way to the governor. However, since the capital bonding bill funds $300 million in projects, it is expected the governor will veto some of these projects.

Higher Education Budget Bill

Budget Provisions

The University of Minnesota's base budget is being reduced by $105 million for the 2010-2011 biennium. $89.3 million of federal stimulus funds are appropriated to the University. These funds will be used in accordance with the University's priorities:

State Grant Program

The LME (Living Miscellaneous Expense) was increased by $800 to $7000 for each year and the tuition maximum was increased by $650 to $10,488 for each year. For most eligible University of Minnesota students, they will see an increase of $783 in combined Pell and State grant awards in 2009-2010. Additionally, eligibility is changed from eight semesters to nine semesters.

Veterinary Loan Forgiveness

$225,000 is appropriated to the Office of Higher Education to establish a loan forgiveness program for five veterinary graduates that practice large animal services in rural areas.

Expenditure Reduction Report

By March 15, 2010 the University of Minnesota and MnSCU are to submit reports on their expenditure reduction plan to achieve the 2012-13 funding base.

Tuition Relief Using Federal Stimulus

"The legislature intends that the net tuition increase for a Minnesota resident undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota must not exceed $300 per year for the biennium ending June 30, 2011" This language is in the federal stimulus section.

Human Cloning

An amendment was added to the higher education bill to ban the use of state funds for the purpose of human cloning. Given that there were no public hearings on this legislation and very little information available to the members of the legislature, there was never an opportunity for the University to comment on this provision. In the conference committee discussion on this matter, the point was made that this language is hostile to the stem cell community and is likely to have a chilling effect on medical research in Minnesota. The legislators agreed at that time not to include any language in their bill. However, after the conference committee re-convened after a break, they re-inserted the language banning the use of state funds for cloning. The reason for the change in direction was that the governor's office was insisting that this language be included in the final bill.

Made in USA Clothing

"To the extent possible, a bookstore located on the campus of a public college or university in Minnesota must offer for sale clothing or articles of apparel that are manufactured in the USA. The college or university must make a report to the legislature on the results of the efforts made to comply with the section."

Regent Candidate Advisory Council

A member of the council may not serve more than two full terms.

University Liquor License

A liquor license for a University arena or stadium is "…void unless it requires the sale of intoxicating liquor throughout the arena or stadium if intoxicating liquor is sold anywhere in the arena or stadium."

Dental Therapists

After months of negotiations and legislative hearings, the legislature has granted approval for the creation of a new dental provider, called a dental therapist. The legislative session began with two competing proposals for this new provider (an oral health provider and a dental therapist) and the final compromised bill has melded them into one. The training, scope of practice, and supervision of these new providers is very close to the legislation that was supported by the U of M School of Dentistry, and had the support of the Minnesota Dental Association.

Under this legislation, there is also an opportunity for dental therapists to continue their education and training to become an advanced dental therapist, under which licensure they would be allowed to perform more dental services with less supervision. An important component of the practice of dental therapists is that they are required to serve low-income, uninsured, and underserved patients or they must be located in a dentally underserved area of the state.

This was a true compromise between the U of M School of Dentistry, MnSCU, the Minnesota Dental Association, the Safety Net Coalition and others. This degree program and licensure of these providers will allow the U of M School of Dentistry to continue training dental professionals to meet the needs of Minnesotans.

Capital Bonding Bill

The capital bonding bill provides the following funding for the University:

May 1, 2009

Higher Education Legislation

The higher education conference committee has begun meeting. They are in the early stages of reaching a compromise on the legislation and continue to meet discussing the level of proposed funding, policy changes and the state grant program. They meet again on Monday morning at 9 AM. The confereed bill will then go back to both bodies for a vote.

Capital Investment Legislation

The capital investment bonding conference committee met for a short time Monday evening to go over the two bills but have not yet reached an agreement.

Omnibus Liquor Legislation

The Senate omnibus liquor bill contains language that has the intent of specifying the University's liquor license for TCF Bank Stadium requires that liquor sales cannot be limited to just the suites and the club rooms. Rather, if sold, it must be sold throughout the stadium. The bill is awaiting action on the Senate floor. The House did pass their omnibus liquor bill and a similar amendment was included.

Legislation is necessary to permit the University to apply for a liquor license to the State of Minnesota. The legislature approved additional liquor licenses for the University during the 2007 session and the license for TCF Bank Stadium has been issued. The University's intent has been to sell alcohol exclusively in premium seating areas of the stadium.

Genetic Informatics

Dr. Tim Church, a faculty member in the School of Public Health, testified before a joint meeting of two House committees: Civil Justice and Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight. Dr. Church addressed a series of legislative proposals that alter the use of genetic materials in research.

Legislative Schedule

As of Monday, May 4, the legislature has two weeks remaining in the 2009 regular session.

Undergraduate Research Displays

During this past week, the University brought more than 30 posters of this year's best undergraduate research to the North Corridor of the Minnesota State Capitol. The student researchers also met with legislators and staff to discuss their research.

Legislative Commission

The Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy continues to meet to discuss state budget targets and the impact of the federal stimulus dollars. The commission is made up of leadership from both bodies. This week, the commission heard testimony from Commissioner Tom Hanson from the Minnesota Management and Budget office.

April 14, 2009

Higher Education Bills

Both the House and Senate have passed their respective bills off of their floors. The next step in the process is to appoint conferees and go into conference committee, where members from both houses will reach a compromise on the legislation.

See both bills.

Capital Investment

The capital investment conference committee has began meeting. While their work is not yet complete, it is expected that they will finalize their bill today or tomorrow. The House has made motions to concur with some of the original Senate language that included the Bell Museum.

See a side-by-side comparison of the two bills.

Data Practices

Friday's Star Tribune had an article about proposed changes to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act dealing with reports on employee outside income held by public entities, including the University. There are two proposals -- one making the data private and one making it public. The University does not oppose expanded public access to these data. However, the University only requires disclosure of the source of outside income, not the amount.

Legislative Activity

Given the time of the legislative session and the amount of work the legislature has to complete, the schedule is very fluid. They continue to meet daily in committee hearings and floor session, continuing into the evenings and on weekends. The legislature has until May 18, 2009 to pass legislation to balance the budget and send their bills to the governor.

April 17, 2009

House Higher Education Bill

The House Higher Education biennial budget bill passed out of the Higher Education committee and the House Finance committee this week. It will be heard in the Ways and Means committe on Monday, with a full floor vote expected thereafter.

The bill includes a number of mandates for the University.

Senate Higher Education Bill

The Senate higher education bill passed off the floor today on a vote of 41 to 23.

Bonding Bill

The Capital Investment Conference Committee met on Tuesday to compare the House and Senate bills. At this time, it is unknown when they will next meet.

See a side-by-side compairson of the two bills.

Upcoming Hearings

House Ways and Means Monday, April 20, 2009 3:00 PM (or immediately following session)

April 6, 2009

Capital Investment

The House of Representatives passed its bonding bill by a vote of 93-40. The bill is $200 million in total and contains $20 million in HEAPR funding and $3 million for a solar certification testing lab for the University. The Bell Museum is not included in the bill.

See the final version.

The House and Senate conference committee has been named. It is expected to start meeting next week. The conferees are:

Higher Education Omnibus Bill

The Senate has released its higher education omnibus bill. For the University, it contains a $112.5 million base reduction for FY10-11 and $73 million in one-time stimulus money. The House plans to unveil its bill next week.

Schedule

The House and Senate recessed Tuesday, through April 14, in recognition of Easter and Passover. There will be no legislative activity until next week.

Upcoming Hearings

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
1 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14
Room 200, State Office Building

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14
Room 200, State Office Building
Agenda: higher education bill

Capital Investment Conference Committee
2:45 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14
Basement Hearing Room, State Office Building

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
1 p.m.
Thursday, April 16
Room 5, State Office Building

April 3, 2009

House Capital Investment Bill

The House released their $200 million 2009 capital investment bill; this is considerably smaller than the Senate bill. The bill includes $20 million for the University in HEAPR funds and $3 million for a solar certification testing lab. This laboratory was not part of the University's 2009 capital request and it is not clear at this time how this $3 million would be used. The Bell Museum of Natural History was not included in the legislation. House Capital Investment Chairwoman Alice Hausman will bring the bill to the floor for a full vote early next week. Given the differences between the Senate and House versions, the bill will go into conference committee where they will compromise on one piece of legislation. The bill will then go back to the Senate and House floors for a vote and then onto the governor.

See the House bill.

See the House tracking spreadsheet (PDF).

Budget Bill

Both the House and Senate higher education committees are in the process of creating their budget bills for the FY2010-11 biennium. The Senate is expected to vote on their bill on Tuesday and the House is expected to vote on their higher education bill on the 14th.

Other Legislation

There are numerous other pieces of legislation making their way through the committee process that would affect the University. They were described in detail in the updates from March 13, 2009 and March 20, 2009. Some of the bills will be included in omnibus bills; others could stand alone. We will continue to update you on these bills as they work their way through the House and Senate.

Legislative Schedule

The Legislature will recess for one week starting on Tuesday, April 7. They will break in recognition of Passover and Easter and come back to the Capitol on Tuesday, April 14.

Upcoming Hearings

Senate Higher Education Budget and Policy Committee
12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 7
Room 123, State Capitol

House Higher Education and Economic Development Committee
1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14
Room 5, State Office Building
Agenda: Higher education bill

March 27, 2009

Extension at the Capitol

On Thursday, the University Extension Service hosted a day at the State Capitol for their advocates from around the state. The events spanned two days and included Saint Paul campus tours, sessions on research, a discussion of the legislative process and conversations about how the Extension Service contributes to Minnesota. The participants also had the opportuinity to meet with their state senators and representatives.

Joint Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy

Vice President Tim Mulcahy testified before the Joint Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy. His presentation concerned potential funding for competitive research grants and what the OVPR is doing to promote funding opportuinities.

U and Minneapolis Neighborhood Alliance

On March 25, Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak and President Bruininks testified before the Senate Economic Development and Housing Committee in support of the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis campus neighborhood improvement bill, introduced by Senator Larry Pogemiller. This bill would create a permanent structure to continue the work begun by the University District Alliance, a volunteer coalition begun in 2007, that addresses University-neighborhood issues. Rybak and Bruininks discussed the progress and accomplishments of the Alliance to date. Additionally, Arvonne Fraser and Dick Poppele, of the Alliance steering committee, outlined the goals of the Alliance; the financial contributions made by the University, Minneapolis, and other partners; and discussed the resources that would be required to accomplish the Alliance goals.

Liquor Legislation

On Thursday, Vice President and Chief of Staff Kathy Brown and Athletics Director Joel Maturi testified before the Senate Higher Education Committee against the liquor legislation.

Ordinance Authority

The Senate and House bills that would have authorized the U to enact certain ordinances was tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. It is unlikely that further action will be taken on this bill this session.

Upcoming Hearings

House Capital Investment Finance committee
Room 200, State Office Building
Monday, March 30, 2009
3:00 PM
Agenda: Capital Investment bill presentation
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
2:45 PM
Agenda: Capital Investment bill mark-up and passage

March 20, 2009

Funding Implications to the University

On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Pawlenty proposed a revised state budget, outlining his plan to solve the budget crisis and how federal stimulus funds would be used.

The House of Representatives also released their budget proposal this week. Similar to Governor Pawlenty's plan, it reduces the University's base budget for FY2010-11 and then fills it back up with the temporary federal stimulus dollars. At the same time, it increases the base budget in future bienniums (FY2012-13). As the details become clear we will share them with you.

Bonding Bill

The House of Representatives will be putting together the bonding proposal next week. At this time the details are still unclear, but it is expected that their version of the legislation will be less than the Senate version, which totaled $367.7 million.

Budget Meetings

Members of University leadership continue to meet with legislators regarding the University's budget, the state of the economy and the state of the U. As the state's premier economic engine, the University and its research are of great concern to legislators given the role the institution plays in stimulating Minnesota's economy.

Liquor Legislation

On Thursday, Vice President and Chief of Staff Kathryn F. Brown testified before the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection committee against legislation concerning liquor sales at TCF Bank Stadium. The bill will be included in the omnibus liquor bill and move into the full Senate for further discussion and a vote. Senator Tomassoni's (DFL-Chisholm) intent for this legislation is that if alcohol is sold at TCF Bank Stadium it must be sold throughout the stadium and not exclusively in premium seating.

Agriculture State Special

Allen Levine, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences testified before the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committee with Senior Associate Dean Michael Schmitt from Extension. They spoke about the University's agriculture state special.

March 19, 2009

House announces state budget plan

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives outlined their state budget plan, which uses the one-time, federal stimulus funds. Like the governor's, the House budget reduces the University's (state) base budget and then fills it back up with the temporary federal stimulus dollars. Unlike the governor's plan, the House creates a higher base for higher education in the out years (2012-13 biennium)—the base would only be $122 million less for all of higher education (U of M, MnSCU, and Office of Higher Education). We will update you as details of the House plan become available.

March 18, 2009

What Governor Pawlenty's revised state budget means for the University of Minnesota

On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Pawlenty proposed a revised state budget, outlining his plan for how federal stimulus funds would be used. Media reports implied that cuts to higher education, and the University of Minnesota in particular, would be scaled back. In fact, the governor's plan would reduce the University's base budget further and use onetime, temporary federal stimulus funds to replenish the proposed cut to the University's budget for this fiscal year (2009) and the coming biennium (2010-11).

In the short term–over the next two years–federal stimulus funds may provide a much needed bridge for University budget changes. But realistically, these nonrecurring dollars cannot be used to support the ongoing costs of running the University. As a result, it remains critical that the University substantially reduces spending supported by its state appropriation in order to be well positioned for reduced state support in the future.

As welcome as the one-time federal appropriations would be under the governor's proposal, they would not undo his previously proposed cuts. Under the governor's plan, at the beginning of the succeeding biennium (2012-13), the University's biennial base of state support would be $151 million less than it is today.

Earlier this week, the Senate released its state budget plan and the House did so today. Throughout the remainder of the legislative session, University leaders, the state relations team, and the grassroots legislative network will continue to weigh in as the governor and the Legislature work to reach an agreement on the state's budget, including funding for the University and utilization of the one-time federal dollars.

As the federal and state budget challenge continues to evolve, the University will continue to plan for reduced state funding. The University's budget principles and strategies will continue to serve as a guide in planning the budget. For more information, see the University's budget principles, charts detailing the governor's budget and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, and President Bruininks's March 13 budget update to the Board of Regents.

March 13, 2009

Bonding Bill

The Senate Capital Investment committee has released their 2009 capital investment bill. It was unanimously passed out of committee on Tuesday evening. The bill includes $59 million in bonding for the University, for the Bell Museum of Natural History and HEAPR projects. The total size of the bill is nearly $367.5 million, approximately three times the size of the normal off-year bonding bill. The bill then passed the Senate Finance committee on Thursday and is scheduled to go to the full Senate for a vote on Monday, March 16.

See the bill and the spreadsheet (PDF).

The House is still in the process of passing a bill out of their Capital Investment committee and; this is expected to happen in the near future. That legislation will be similar to the Senate version both in projects and the level of funding.

Stem Cells

This week, President Obama overturned an executive order from the Bush administration regarding the use of embryonic stem cells. A lift on the stem cell restrictions is great for science. The University, as home to the nation's first established stem cell institute, is exploring all pathways to scientific discovery, and the easing of restrictions on embryonic stem cell research will help that endeavor. The University has often stated that this type of research should happen in public research universities with the transparency and oversight that comes with federal funding. Scientists and physician/researchers are hopeful that stem cells will result in future treatments for a variety of diseases. At the stem cell institute, faculty members are working on applying developmental stem cell biology to diseases including diabetes, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, and others.

More information is available on President Obama's blog.

President Bruininks at the Capitol

President Bruininks met with legislative leaders and numerous other legislators on Monday. They discussed the budget, the stimulus package, financial aid, and the economy.

Other Related Legislative Issues

In addition to tracking bills and following bonding and higher education related legislation, the Office of Government and Community Relations follows numerous issues each legislative session. Below is a list of topics being followed carefully at the Capitol.

March 6, 2009

$4.6 Billion Shortfall Forecast for FY2010‐11 Biennium

On Tuesday, Commissioner of Management and Budget Tom Hanson released the state's budget forecast to the legislature with Governor Tim Pawlenty. There has been no material change in Minnesota's FY2010‐11 budget outlook, however, there have been significant changes affecting the forecast. An additional $1.166 billion reduction in forecast revenues caused by further deterioration in the U.S. economic outlook was more than offset by $1.359 billion in general fund assistance from the federal stimulus package. After factoring in some other changes, the projectet shortfall for the FY2010‐11 biennium falls by $277 million to $4.570 billion (in November the shortfall was $4.847 billion).

Federal Stimulus Aid Assists, But Not a Permanent Solution

One‐time federal stimulus aid helps in the upcoming biennium. But it only reduces budgetary pressures through FY2011. In FY2012‐13, revenues are now expected to fall short by $5.133 billion.

Financing the University 101

Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter testified before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee at a special hearing regarding U financing. Mr. Pfutzenreuter spent three hours explaining in great detail the University's budget, revenue streams, our accounting system, capital debt and funding trends.

Senior Vice President and Provost Tom Sullivan, and Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Bob McMaster also joined Mr. Pfutzenreuter in answering questions about the University's academic programs.

Bonding Bill

Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter, Director of Capital Planning and Project Management Orlyn Miller and Bell Museum Director Susan Weller presented the University's capital request to the Senate Higher Education Committee. They spoke about shovel-ready HEAPR projects and the construction of the new Bell Museum on the Saint Paul campus.

Regents Selection

The Legislature will elect Regents for the University on Monday, March 9 at 1:00 PM in a joint session of the House and Senate. Regents take office immediately upon election, hence there will be new Regent(s) at the March board meetings. This will be available to see online on TPT-17.

February 27, 2009

Support the U Day

Wednesday's student-led University rally was a success. An estimated 300 students and supporters from all five U campuses came to the Capitol to hear student speakers Dustin Norman, Marshall Johnson, Jason Wittrock, Mike McBride, Jay Hesley (Rochester staff representative), and Kristi Kremers, as well as Board of Regents chair Patricia Simmons, President Bob Bruininks, and special guest R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis. A majority of students had a legislative visit, and more than 140 legislator letters were generated. The event was also featured on WCCO (radio and TV), KMSP, and KARE, as well as the Duluth News Tribune, Forum Communications newspapers, and the Minnesota Daily.

Capital Investment Hearing

Vice President Kathleen O'Brien presented the University's capital request to the House Higher Education and Workforce Development committee. The House has introduced two separate pieces of legislation, one for asset preservation projects and the other for new capital projects.

University Oversight and Accountability

Senior Vice President and Provost Tom Sullivan and Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter testified before the Senate Higher Education committee on Tuesday regarding University oversight and accountability. They fielded a variety of questions from the committee, and discussed how the academy is run, how it is financed, programs the U offers, scholarships, and the annual accountability report.

Find the accountability report (PDF).

Leading for Minnesota's Future: Public Forum with Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Join the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs for "Leading for Minnesota's Future," a public forum with Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, on Monday, March 2, from 8 to 9:15 a.m., in Cowles Auditorium. This forum is one in a series of public talks by prominent government leaders and is sponsored by the Humphrey Institutes's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

This event is free and open to the public. A continental breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the program from 8 to 9:15 a.m.

Budget Forecast

The State of Minnesota's budget forecast will be announced on Tuesday, March 3. This is the forecast that the legislature will use to craft their budget proposals. The Governor has suggested the state budget deficit could approach $7 billion, or nearly 20 percent of the state's total general fund spending.

Data Privacy

The University is seeking new legislation regarding data privacy in investments. The bill covers investments that fall into the "private capital" category including:

  1. Venture capital and other private equity partnerships
  2. Real estate partnerships
  3. Natural resource partnerships (usually oil and gas or timber)

The bill would limit the information disclosed about specific investments in these categories to the fund's name and the amount invested in each, and would not require the U to disclose further "business data" about the underlying investments. It clarifies that the U is still required, if requested, to disclose a broad range of investment performance information at a total portfolio level, including current market value and internal rate of return.

Federal Stimulus

The Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy has been meeting weekly (it includes leadership from both bodies of the legislature) to address funding from the federal government and money in the stimulus package. The commission has heard testimony from the commissioner of finance regarding how the federal stimulus funds could be used and invested in Minnesota and the impact it would have on the state's budget.

Upcoming Hearings

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
Monday, March 2
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Room 5, State Office Building
Agenda: University of Minnesota Financing 101
*Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter to present

Senate Higher Education Committee
Thursday, March 5
12:30 p.m.
Agenda: 2009 bonding request
*Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter and Capital Planning and Project Management Director Orlyn Miller are scheduled to present

February 20, 2009

Senate Capital Investment

Vice Presidents Richard Pfutzenreuter and Kathleen O'Brien presented the University's 2009 capital request to the Senate Capital Investment committee. This request includes $35 million in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) and $39.5 million in funding for the Bell Museum of Natural History.

2009 Bonding Bill

The legislature has begun the process of crafting a bonding bill for 2009. Typically, in a budget year, the legislature prepares a $120 million bill, consisting of infrastructure needs, asset preservation, and new capital projects. This year however, Senator Keith Langseth (chairman, Senate Capital Investment) and Representative Alice Hausman (chairwoman, House Capital Investment) plan to prepare a bill of about $300 million, more than twice the magnitude of the typical bill. This is an effort to fund 'shovel-ready' projects throughout the state and serve as a statewide stimulus-like package. This bill will consist mainly of asset preservation projects for state agencies, but also new construction and asset preservation for MnSCU and the University. We are expecting a bill to be introduced in the coming weeks.

Support the U Day

The Minnesota Student Association is hosting "Support the U Day" on February 25th at 12 noon at the state Capitol.

Speakers include President Bruininks, Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Dustin Norman, student representative to the Board of Regents. Note: Bus service to the Capitol will be available from all campuses.

Upcoming events and hearings

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
Tuesday, February 24
10:30 a.m. - 12 noon
Room 200, State Office Building

Senate Higher Education Committee
Tuesday, February 24
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Room 123, State Capitol
Agenda: University Budget Overview
(Sr. Vice President Tom Sullivan & Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter will discuss specific questions asked by the committee on the budget and the

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
Tuesday, February 24
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Room 5, State Office Building
Agenda: 2009 capital bonding request

House Higher Education and Workforce Development and Senate Higher Education Committees Joint Hearing
Thursday, February 26
12:30 p.m.
Room 200, State Office Building

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
Monday, March 2
7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Room 5, State Office Building
Agenda: University of Minnesota Financing 101

House Higher Education and Workforce Development and Senate Higher Education Committees Joint Hearing
Tuesday, March 3
12:30 p.m.

Senate Economic Development Committee
Wednesday, March 11
3:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Room 107, State Capitol
Agenda: 2009 University District Alliance report
(President Bruininks and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will present this

February 13, 2009

Legislative leadership tours Minnesota

Legislators will be holding Budget Solution Town Hall Meetings across the state (more information available here) on February 20-26 to seek Minnesotans' suggestions on addressing the $4.8 billion state deficit. Legislative Network members received an update on these tours and will receive local reminders shortly before each session encouraging them to attend and to discuss the University with their legislators.

Dean Lloyd testifies

Patrick Lloyd, dean of the school of dentistry, testified on Wednesday before the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division regarding the devastating effects of the Governor's budget recommendations to dental care access to low income Minnesotans. Specifically, the recommendations have a negative financial impact on the dental clinics throughout the state that the University operates.

Economic effects of health care

Lynn Blewett, associate professor in the school of public health, presented before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Health and Human Services policy committees regarding the impact of a sluggish economy on health care in Minnesota. She discussed uninsured rates, premiums, hospitals and safety net providers, and their status and future in this economy.

Legislative leadership meets with Regents

House and Senate legislative leaders met with President Bob Bruininks and members of the Board of Regents Wednesday. Topics of discussion included the budget and the momentum of the University.

Support the U Day is coming!

The Minnesota Student Association is hosting "Support the U Day" on February 25th at 12 noon at the state capitol. U supporters are invited to sign up by February 21st -- keep the U strong and accessible for current and future generations of U students.

Speakers include President Bob Bruininks, R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis, and Dustin Norman, student representative to the Board of Regents. Note: Bus service to the capitol will be available from all campuses.

Upcoming events and hearings

February 17, 2009
Senate Capital Investment Committee
11:15 AM
State Capitol Room 123
re: HEAPR, Bell Museum
*Vice Presidents Kathleen O'Brien and Richard Pfutzenreuter will present the

February 17, 2009
Senate Higher Education Committee
1:00 PM
State Capitol Room 123
re: University budget discussion and oversight
*Provost Tom Sullivan and Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter will testify

February 6, 2009

Deans Testify

Deans Trevor Ames, Bev Durgan and Allen Levine appeared before the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Finance committee on Wednesday. The Deans presented the outcomes from the FY2008-09 Agricultural State Special funding and its impact on their colleges. Each Dean also talked about the importance of their college to the state.

Bruininks Responds to Pawlenty's Proposed Budget

President Bob Bruininks testified before the Senate Higher Education Finance committee on Thursday to respond to Governor Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget. He addressed the statewide economic situation and the impact of the University on the state.

Students from MnSCU and the University also testified, including GAPSA President Kristi Kremers and MSA members Jordan Bronston, Michael Conway and Emily Mitchell.

Also testifying before the committee were MnSCU Chancellor James McCormick and Office of Higher Education Director Susan Heegaard.

Minnesota Town Hall Meetings

Legislative leaders and other lawmakers will be visiting Minnesota communities regarding the governor's budget recommendations and to get the public's input on the state's $4.8 billion budget deficit.

Thursday, February 19:

Friday, February 20:

The Legislature will also be holding town hall meetings in the metro area, and we will notify you of the meetings when they are announced.

Upcoming Events and Hearings

February 10, 2009
Senate Higher Education Committee
re: college preparedness
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
State Capitol Room 123

January 30, 2009

Governor Pawlenty gives FY2010-11 biennial budget recommendations to the legislature

Governor Pawlenty unveiled his $33.6 billion proposed biennial budget on January 27, 2009. To address the state's projected deficit of $4.8 billion, the governor relied on $3.3 billion of one time funding mechanisms, $2.5 billion of spending reductions, proposed to reduce taxes by $.3 billion, proposed new spending initiatives totaling $.3 billion and established a $250 million budget reserve.

The proposed budget includes:

The following is a statement from President Bruininks in response to Governor Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget:

"From job losses to the credit crunch, the economic challenges facing our state, nation and the world seem to worsen each day. Dealing with our state budget shortfall will require strong leadership and all of us being part of the solution. The University of Minnesota has been working aggressively to reduce costs, scale back investments and take other actions to help resolve this shortfall. Just since May 2008, we have dealt with $37.4 million in state budget cuts.

"However, Gov. Pawlenty's budget recommendations are just the first step in a long budget process. His proposal for the university's budget carries with it enormous consequences. It will impact the quality and affordability of the education we provide. It will impair our ability to serve as a job creation engine for the state through research and development. And, it will have an inevitable impact on our workforce, tuition and our ability to attract research grants - just as it did five years ago when the state cut $195 million from the university.

"We made difficult choices then - including closing colleges and Extension offices - and are prepared again to make tough decisions. This year, I hope policy-makers will continue to give us the flexibility we need to address this substantial budget cut, and that they will look beyond short-term fixes to consider the long-term trajectory we are on. Minnesota's system of higher education has always been an asset, educating our workforce and turning new discoveries into new jobs for Minnesota. In these challenging economic times, there is no more forward-looking investment to be made than in maintaining - or even enhancing - the quality of education in our state.

"At the U, we are fully prepared to do our part to deal with this state budget problem. However, we are hopeful that lawmakers and the governor will come to realize that higher education is the best kind of long-term economic stimulus and that, together, we can minimize this proposed reduction." The governor's budget proposal for the U of M is available here. The legislature will now prepare their budget proposal, based on the February forecast (scheduled to be released March 4), which is expected to show an even greater deficit for FY2010-11.

Senate Higher Education Committee hearing on access to higher education

The Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing on access to higher education.

The University has numerous programs to increase access to higher education for all students. Kent Pekel, director of the College Readiness Consortium, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Bob McMaster and Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity Louis Mendoza reviewed how these programs operate, how widespread their impact is, the students they serve, and how the University allocates funds to these programs.

Faculty and students testify

Faculty and students testified before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development committee on Tuesday. The students did an exemplary job of sharing their stories about the University and its impact on their lives. They spoke about tuition, affordability, and the quality of education at the U. Moreover, they echoed President Bruininks' concern about a tuition cap, stressing that they would prefer a quality education to a cheaper one. Participating students were Kristi Kremers, Lauren Eriksson, Alex Tenenbaum and Martin Chorzempa.

Faculty members Martin Sampson, Caroline Hayes, Emily Hoover and Nancy Carpenter spoke to the committee about their teaching responsibilities, job creation, faculty retention, recent discoveries at the U and the importance of direct interaction with students.

Senate Higher Education Committee visits campus

Members and staff of the Senate Higher Education committee visited the Twin Cities campus for a brief campus visit on Tuesday, January 27. The members and staff started with lunch overlooking the recently demolished Science Classroom Building and had a discussion with President Bruininks regarding the budget and the status of the University. The group then toured the Dental Simulation Center with Dean Patrick Lloyd. They also visited the Unite Center in Mechanical Engineering to discuss online learning initiatives and Walter Library to learn about new and changing technologies in libraries and how libraries are involved in e-learning.

2009 Legislative Briefing

On Wednesday, January 28th, more than 370 guests joined President Bruininks, Regent Patricia Simmons, Bruce Mooty and Dr. Maureen Reed at the 2009 Legislative Briefing. Following the U's legislative agenda presentation, attendees wrote personal "Where would you be without the U?" letters to their legislators, and discussed ways to put their stories to work to keep the U strong during challenging times. All together, at least 450 handwritten constituent letters will be delivered to the Capitol.

President Bruininks on Minnesota Public Radio

President Bruininks and Chancellor McCormick together discussed the impacts of state budgetary cuts and the future of higher education in Minnesota on Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday. Federal budget implications and the stimulus package were also discussed.

Committee deadlines

The legislature announced its committee deadlines this week. These dealines structure the flow of bills as they pass through both bodies and winnow the amount of bills processed. For those of you who follow this process closley, here are the deadlines.

First deadline: March 27, 2009 at 8:00 PM
Second deadline: April 7 at midnight
Third deadline: April 16
Fourth deadline: April 22
Fifth deadline: May 7

Upcoming events and hearings

February 2, 2009
House Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance Committee
re: Restoring Minnesota's Economic Health: Recovery and Reinvestment
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
State Office Building Room 5
*Retired Professor Hy Berman from the Department of History and Professor Lary May from American Studies are presenting to the committee.

February 4, 2009
House Agriculture and Veterans Finance Division division
re: Report on agricultural special spending report on the FY2008-2009.
10:00 AM - 12 noon
State Office Building Basement Hearing Room
*Deans Allen Levine, Bev Durgan and Trevor Ames are scheduled to present to the committee.

February 5, 2009
Senate Higher Education Committee
re: Governor's Budget recommendations
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
State Capitol Room 123
*President Bruininks will give testimony on the effect of the Governor's proposed cuts to the University.

February 10, 2009
House Health and Human Services Policy Committee hearing
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
State Office Building Room 200
*Ira Moscovice and Lynn Blewett, from the School of Public Health, will present on the effect of the economic downturn on the health care delivery system.

February 26, 2009
Joint House and Senate Higher Education Committee hearing
re: U of M Regent Selection
12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
State Office Building Room 200

March 3, 2009
Joint House and Senate Higher Education Committee hearing
re: U of M Regent selection
12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
State Office Building Room 200

January 23, 2009

Statewide Conservation Plan

Dr. Deb Swackhammer, from the University Water Resources Board, presented a statewide conservation plan to a joint hearing of the House Environment and Natural Resource Finance division and the Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance committees. This plan is a tool for policymakers to get a holistic view of the implications of policy decisions on natural resources.

E-Learning

Provost Tom Sullivan presented the University's e-learning initiatives to the Senate Higher Education Finance committee. Joining the Provost was Dean John Finnegan, from the School of Public Health, to highlight the online learning initiatives in his college. They focused on blended approaches to e-education and its related costs.

Financial Aid

Peter Zetterberg participated in a panel discussion before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development committee regarding financial aid and the role of state grants. Also joining him were representatives from MnSCU and the private colleges. The committee, in response, created a working group to further examine state involvement in grants, to be headed by Representative Slocum (D-Richfield).

Budget History and FY2010-11

President Bruininks and Vice President Pfutzenreuter testified before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development committee regarding the history of University budget reductions since 2003 and implications of an anticipated biennial reduction. They also highlighted recent successes of the University. Joining them were Chancellors Martin, Casey, Lehmkuhle and Vice Chancellor Cheryl Contant from Morris.

2009 Capital Request

Vice Presidents Kathleen O'Brien and Richard Pfutzenreuter presented the 2009 capital request to the House Capital Investment committee. This year's request includes $35M in HEAPR funds and $39.5M for the Bell Museum. Dr. Susan Weller, Director of the Bell Museum, answered questions regarding the proposed project on the Saint Paul campus. They also gave a status update of the 2006 and 2008 bonding projects.

Science Classroom Building

President Bruininks, university officials, students and staff attended the demolition and ceremonial.

January 16, 2009

State of the State address

On Thursday, Governor Pawlenty delivered his "State of the State" address to the legislature. In it, he made reference to the University and MnSCU with regard to online learning, and commended both institutions for their efforts on making coursework available online. We believe this will continue to be a prominent issue this year. Vice Provost Billie Wahlstrom has a very comprehensive website for the University's digital campus.

The Governor also mentioned in his speech the desire to freeze salaries for employees for the 2010-11 biennium at any Minnesota government entity that receives state dollars. Additionally, he mentioned a tuition cap for both the University and MnSCU.

The following is a statement from President Robert Bruininks in response to Gov. Tim Pawlenty's State of the State Address:

"The challenges facing Minnesota and our entire country are enormous. We welcome Gov. Pawlenty's ideas on moving our state ahead and look forward to working with him and the Legislature to address these challenges. I understand the need for the University of Minnesota to be part of the solution to the current state budget shortfall. Our faculty, staff and students are well aware of the challenges facing Minnesota. We also understand that quality education is a key to everyone's future prosperity.

Higher education is economic stimulus. The jobs created as a result of university research and entrepreneurial activity, and the strengthened human capital that results from the 14,000 degrees we award each year are Minnesota's homegrown economic engine. As I have stated on several occasions - the path out of Minnesota's current crisis, and a return to a vibrant and growth-oriented economy, lies directly through the classrooms, laboratories, libraries and halls of our great educational institutions.

Ensuring an affordable, high-quality education and the ability of students to graduate in a timely manner have been top priorities for the U of M in recent years. Despite deep state budget reductions, the university has made education more affordable through new tuition reforms and extraordinary increases in scholarship support. State-mandated tuition caps in the face of the significant budget cuts we expect the governor to recommend later this month will severely compromise the university's ability to educate our more than 60,000 students and deliver on our research mission which attracts nearly $700 million in outside funding each year.

We appreciate the governor's recognition of our work in the area of online learning. Thousands of University of Minnesota students already have a significant online component as part of their collegiate experience. We will continue to increase such opportunities for our students. Our digital campus (www.digitalcampus.umn.edu), unveiled late last year, is a significant step forward in that effort.

Despite the enormity of the state's fiscal challenges, the university looks forward to working with legislators and the governor to preserve and strengthen our state's economic and educational climate. We urge policymakers to provide the U and other statesupported agencies with maximum flexibility in addressing these severe challenges."

Senators tour Saint Paul campus

The Senate Agriculture and Veterans committee toured the St. Paul campus on Tuesday to experience firsthand food and animal safety research at the U. The tour began in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory with a walk through of the necropsy lab. They viewed turkeys undergoing avian flu testing, deer being tested for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis, and several hogs that had expired for unknown reasons. These critical services offered at the lab drove home the importance of its operations for Minnesota.

The group then toured the BL2 insect and plant containment facility. The committee heard about University research to control soybean aphids. The committee members were shown the complex HVAC and water handling systems to better understand the high cost of constructing these types of facilities.

Upcoming hearings

The University is currently scheduled to give testimony a four hearings at the Capitol next week.

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee Tuition and financial aid
Peter Zetterberg will participate in a panel discussion

House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
State of the University, effect of budget cuts
President Bruininks will testify

House Capital Investment Committee
Status of 2008 bonding projects, 2009 supplemental capital request
Vice Presidents O'Brien and Pfutzenreuter will testify

Upcoming events

January 6, 2009

U of M and MnSCU Testify

CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter, Provost Tom Sullivan and MnSCU CFO Laura King testified before the Senate Higher Education Budget Division on Thursday, January 8.

They were asked to answer three questions in preparing for their presentations:

  1. The impact of the FY2003 and FY2004-2005 biennial budget reductions
  2. The impact of the FY2008 and FY2009 budget reductions
  3. The implications of a FY2010-2011 biennial budget reduction

Provost Sullivan's testimony cited specific examples of program delays or cancellations resulting from the most recent budget cuts.

Senators Robling and Senjem asked numerous questions about budget reserves. Fitz explained central reserves, but their questions were directed more to reserves in the colleges. Fitz committed to meet with them to answer their questions. Fitz is preparing a paper that can be used for discussions with specific legislators and staff; our plan is to meet with them privately.

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner

The governor spoke at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce annual dinner on January 7. The focus of his speech was K12 educational reform. The Governor is seeking to tie funding to results. He also stated his belief that millions could be saved if school districts were to share non-direct students services. Although his comments were focused on the K12 educational system, we can expect that the same issues will be raised for higher education. Fitz will be pulling together examples of our current "shared services" purchasing practices as well as any future plans for such practices.

The governor also addressed on-line learning in higher education, claiming that many students want more access to online learning. His goal is for the public higher education systems to have 25 percent of their courses on-line in the next five years. He believes that this can drive down tuition. On December 5, President Bruininks sent a letter to the Governor outlining the University's strategy and status of online learning. The Governor also stated that his budget would protect K12, veterans, and public safety.

Upcoming events

  1. The Senate Agriculture Committee will tour the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the BSL2 lab on the St. Paul campus on January 13. The objective of the tour is to inform the committee what the University does for agriculture and food safety in the state.
  2. Governor Pawlenty's State of the State address will be January 15 at noon.
  3. The President Bruininks will present the University's capital request to the House Capital Investment Committee on January 22.
  4. Governor Pawlenty will release his FY2010-2011 biennial budget on January 27.