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State Relations Updates

2011 Regular Session, 87th Legislature

May 25, 2011

2011 Legislative Session Adjourns

Last night, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned the 2011 regular legislative session without reaching agreement with Governor Dayton on a balanced budget for fiscal year 2012-2013. The legislature and governor will need a special session to address the state's $5 billion budget deficit. According to the state constitution, the governor and legislature must address the budget deficit prior to June 30, or risk a shutdown of state government. (The only omnibus finance bill signed this session was the omnibus agriculture bill.)

Governor Dayton now holds the authority to call the legislature to a special session. It is expected he will delay doing so until a budget compromise can be reached with legislative leaders.

Governor Vetoes Higher Education Omnibus Bill, H.F. 1101

This afternoon, Governor Dayton vetoed the nine budget bills passed by the legislature in the last few days of session, including the higher education omnibus bill. In his higher education veto letter (PDF), Governor Dayton states, "When the future of our state depends on strong institutions of higher education, H.F. 1101 includes, in real dollars, the deepest cuts to higher education in our state's history." The veto comes as no surprise; Governor Dayton publicly stated that he would veto the bills if a global budget deal had not been reached.

Read the other eight veto letters.

May 13, 2011

As of today, almost all of the finance omnibus conference committees have completed their work and the remaining few that have not will most likely finish this weekend. It is expected that the governor and the Republican leadership will then begin serious negotiations in an attempt to find a total state budget compromise. The constitution requires that the last day of the session is Monday, May 23rd. If the leadership has not arrived at a budget compromise with the governor, it is assumed that the legislative leadership will send all of their conference committee reports to the governor and, without a budget agreement, the governor will most likely veto the bills. The next step would be for the governor to use his authority to call a special session for the purpose of passing the state budget. A week from today, we will certainly know if the budget can be resolved before the 23rd or if it will take a special session to resolve the budget.

Higher Education Conference Committee Reaches Agreement

This week, the higher education conference committee ended their review and testimony on HF 1101, the omnibus bill, and reconciled the differences between the House and Senate versions. (Read President Bruininks's "Year-End Legislative and Budget Update".) The committee met on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12 to reach an agreement on several items that will affect the University of Minnesota:

View the full conference committee report.

Human Cloning Restrictions

Language relating to human cloning continues to advance to the governor's desk in two forms. The definition of human cloning includes the scientific process of somatic cell nuclear transfer. As noted above, the higher education omnibus bill bans the use of state or federal funding to support human cloning or to pay for any expenses incidental to human cloning.

In addition, the health and human services omnibus bill creates criminal penalties for anyone engaged in the practice of human cloning, as defined above. The University, along with several advocacy groups, business leaders, and the Mayo Clinic have argued against these provisions and the chilling effect they will have on research in our state.

MERC Reductions

The Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC) program, which helps to fund graduate medical education throughout the state, is curtailed in the health and human services omnibus bill. The governor's budget recommendations proposed reductions to this program and the legislature has made significant reductions as well. The University has allied with our clinical partners, teaching hospitals, and other professional associations to preserve funding for this program. The University will continue to work with the Dayton administration and legislative leaders to maximize the impact of available state and federal funds for these vital programs.

April 13, 2011

Higher Ed Omnibus Bill Conference Committee Scheduled

On Thursday, April 14, a conference committee will meet to discuss the Senate and House versions of the higher education omnibus bill, H.F. 1101. The following legislators have been assigned to the conference committee: Senator Fischbach (Paynesville, chair of Senate Higher Education Committee); Senator Robling (Jordan); Senator Senjem (Rochester); Senator Carlson (Bemidji); Senator Brown (Becker); Representative Nornes (Fergus Falls, chair of the House Higher Education Committee); Representative Dettmer (Forest Lake); Representative Daudt (Crown); Representative Hancock (Bemidji); Representative Mazorol (Bloomington). In its first meeting, the conference committee will focus on comparing the House and Senate versions of the bill. No action is expected to be taken until legislators return from their spring break on April 26. Thursday's meeting will take place at 12:30pm in Room 300N of the State Office Building.

Governor Dayton on Higher Ed

Today, Governor Dayton hosted a higher education roundtable to discuss the impacts of the House and Senate's proposed funding cuts. The meeting included students and representatives from two- and four-year institutions, the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), as well as Minnesota's private and career colleges. Representing the University of Minnesota were President Bruininks, Professor Kate VandenBosch on behalf of faculty, and Thomas Trehus on behalf of students. President Bruininks highlighted the findings of the University's recent economic impact study, making the point that investment in higher education is the best way to create jobs and stimulate the economy. "We're not asking for a free ride. We know we have to be part of the solution. But the legislature's bills are a race to the bottom. That won't make us a global player, " said President Bruininks.

March 30, 2011

Omnibus Higher Education Bills Pass House and Senate

Yesterday, the Minnesota House and Senate passed their respective omnibus higher education bills after lengthy debates.

The Senate Omnibus Higher Education Bill, SF 924, passed as amended, 37-27. Three amendments were offered and one was adopted:

View the amended version of the bill.

The House Omnibus Higher Education Bill, HF 1101, passed as amended, 69-60. Four amendments were offered and three were adopted:

View the amended version of the bill.

Next, a conference committee, composed of members from the House and Senate, will meet to discuss the differences between the two versions of the bill and agree upon one final bill.

Governor Dayton Sends Letter to Republican Leaders

On Tuesday, Governor Mark Dayton sent a letter to Republican leaders setting his terms for budget negotiations. In the letter, Governor Dayton rejects the Republicans' piecemeal budget approach of the past and warns legislators about including policy in budget bills. Read the letter (PDF).

March 24, 2011

Senate Omnibus Higher Education Bill, S.F. 924

This week, the Senate omnibus higher education bill, S.F. 924, was released. The overall reduction in funding to higher education is the same as the in the House omnibus higher education bill, 14.1% relative to the legislatively established "forecast base" for FY2012-2013. The University's overall reduction is 18.9%, which represents a $243.3 million reduction over the 2012-2013 biennium. (This compares to the reduction in the revised House bill of $226.9 million.) The University's annual general fund appropriation for fiscal year 2012 totals $520.4 million. (This compares to the revised House fiscal year 2012 appropriation of $528.6 million.) And, like the appropriation in the House bill, the Senate appropriation is less than the amount the University received in 1998. See President Bruininks' statement.

The detailed figures that follow are also referenced relative to the pre-established 'forecast base.' Both MnSCU (13.2% reduction, $83.5 million, in first year of the biennium) and the U of M received a decrease in state funding. The U's 18.9% reduction, $121.7 million, was taken in the first year of the biennium. No additional reduction was implemented for the second year of the biennium. The University's forecast base for fiscal year 2012 totaled $642.1 million and the Senate bill authorized $520.4 million. The University would also be appropriated $520.4 million for fiscal year 2013.

It is important to note that the reduction of $121.7 million for fiscal year 2012 includes the elimination of the $51.0 million legislatively enacted 'forecast base' increase and an additional reduction of $70.7 million below the $591.1 million appropriation for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

The reductions for the University vary between the operations and maintenance budget and the state specials. The operations and maintenance appropriation was reduced by 20.5%. The Agriculture and Extension special, Institute of Technology special, Health Sciences special and the System special were each reduced by 5.0%. Funding for the U/Mayo partnership remains unchanged from the current appropriation. Unlike the House bill, in the Senate bill the appropriation for the Agriculture and Extension Special directs funding for research in specific areas, including the production of renewable energy form biomass resources, organic agriculture, food safety, an agricultural rapid response fund. A report on the status and outcome of the research specified in this bill is required in 2013. The Humphrey exhibit is not excluded in the System special in the Senate bill as it was in the House bill. The University would continue to receive annual appropriations of $22.3 million for the academic health center from tobacco proceeds.

S.F. 924 also contains provisions for the U of M:

As in the House bill, other provisions in the Senate bill pertaining to all of higher education include:

The state grant program saw an 2.6% increase for student financial aid while there was an overall decrease to the Office of Higher Education of $684,000 for the biennium.

Next week, it is expected that the higher education omnibus bills in both the House and the Senate will go to the floor in their respective bodies for a vote.

Additional Legislation To Watch

Additional language on the ban on human cloning is included in the Senate Omnibus Health and Human Services bill. This language also appears in a separate stand-alone bill, and may be considered for passage by the Senate in an upcoming floor session.

The Senate Capital Investment committee met on Friday, March 25 to pass their omnibus bill. The legislation instructs the commissioner of Management and Budget to refinance outstanding bonds in order to save $60 million. If this cannot be accomplished, it instructs the commissioner to delay already authorized projects in order to realize these savings.

March 21, 2011

House Omnibus Higher Education Bill, H.F. 1101

On Thursday, March 17, the House released its omnibus higher education bill, H.F. 1101. The overall reduction in funding to higher education is 14.1% relative to the legislatively established 'forecast base' for FY2012-2013. The University's overall reduction is 17.8%, which represents a $229.2 million reduction over the 2012-2013 biennium. The $229.2 million biennial reduction is coming on the heels of a $190.7 million reduction in the last biennium, which amounts to more than a $100 million reduction per year over the past four years. The University's annual general fund appropriation for fiscal year 2012 totals $527.5 million, which is now less then the amount The University received in 1998. For more detailed information, read last week's update on the Government and Community Relations website.

The House Higher Education Committee is expected to take testimony on this bill on Tuesday, March 22 before it moves to Ways and Means. It is anticipated that the Senate will introduce their higher education omnibus bill tomorrow and hear it in committee on Wednesday.

Higher Education Policy Legislation

The "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2011"

Legislation titled the "Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2011" was considered and passed by several legislative committees last week. The legislation purports to ban human reproductive cloning, but in fact bans all methods of cellular cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer). Many of these practices are believed by the scientific community to hold the promise of treatments and cures for many fatal and debilitating diseases. The Senate version of this bill will be heard today in the Senate Higher Education Committee. The University opposes this legislation and is building grassroots support for its defeat in the legislature or, ultimately, a veto if it reaches the governor's desk.

U-Mayo Partnership Appropriation

The House Higher Education Committee heard a bill relating to the U-Mayo Partnership on Tuesday, March 15. This legislation would appropriate $8 million in FY 2012 and FY 2013, to finance the research activities of the partnership. This bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus higher education bill.

House Capital Investment Committee Cancels Appropriations

On Tuesday, March 15, the House Capital Investment Committee considered legislation that would cancel appropriations for several previously authorized capital projects that either have not progressed at all or are finished and had a balance left after completion. One University project, the National Solar Testing and Certification Lab, was included in this bill. The University had reported that there was no longer a viable business model for this project and agreed to have $2.15 million in bonds for the project cancelled. This legislation will now move to the Ways and Means committee for further action.

Minnesota Science and Technology Authority

The House omnibus tax bill includes language to establish the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority program and provides $7 million in funding over the upcoming biennium. This omnibus bill will likely be considered by the House in the next 10 days. In the Senate, stand-alone legislation for the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority passed onto the Taxes Committee on Wednesday.

LCCMR Recommendations

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) met on Monday, March 14 to try to finalize their recommendations to the legislature. After five hours of meeting, they were unable to come to consensus and did not take any votes to change their recommendations. At the end of this meeting, Representative McNamara passed out a list of 19 projects that he planned to remove from the proposed LCCMR bill. This list included 12 University research projects totaling $2.891 million. He then stated that he would be offering this list as an amendment to the LCCMR bill the following morning. Then, as chair of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, Representative McNamara said he would be including the LCCMR bill in his omnibus environment finance bill, which is expected to pass out of his committee this week.

In the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee meeting on March 16, Representative McNamara asked for testimony on these proposed cuts. Several members of the faculty took advantage of this opportunity to plead their case for their individual projects. In the end, Representative McNamara did remove all 19 projects he indicated he would. This bill is expected to be sent to the Ways and Means Committee this week and on to the House floor next week.

Senate Agriculture Special Appropriation Presentation

Deans Beverly Durgan and Allen Levine provided testimony, similar to that presented in the House last week, about the agriculture special appropriation before the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 14. The deans provided historical information about the size and funding trends in the special over time, along with how the University uses those funds.

The deans highlighted how agriculture special funds leverage federal funding, magnifying its importance to Minnesota's agricultural community. Currently, this state special provides 16% of Extension's funding and 14% of the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Science's funding. The Higher Education Committee will determine the level of funding for the agriculture special in the next few weeks.

March 18, 2011

Omnibus Higher Education Bill, H.F. 1101

On Thursday, March 17, the House released its omnibus higher education bill,
H.F. 1101. The overall reduction in funding to higher education is 14.1% relative to the legislatively established 'forecast base' for FY2012-2013. The University's overall reduction is 17.8%, which represents a $229.2 million reduction over the 2012-2013 biennium. The $229.2 million biennial reduction is coming on the heels of a $190.7 million reduction in the last biennium, which amounts to more than a $100 million reduction per year over the past four years. The University's annual general fund appropriation for fiscal year 2012 totals $527.5 million, which is now less then the amount The University received in 1998. See President Bruininks' statement.

The detailed figures that follow are also referenced relative to the pre-established 'forecast base.' Both MnSCU (16.1% reduction, $101.7 million, in first year of the biennium) and the U of M received a decrease in state funding. The U's 17.8% reduction, $114.6 million, was taken in the first year of the biennium. No additional reduction was implemented for the second year of the biennium. The University's forecast base for fiscal year 2012 totaled $642.1 million and the House bill authorized $527.5 million. The University would also be appropriated $527.2 million for fiscal year 2013.

It is important to note that the reduction of $114.6M for fiscal year 2012 includes the elimination of the $51.1 million legislatively enacted 'forecast base' increase and an additional reduction of $63.5 million below the $591.1 million appropriation for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

The reductions for the University vary between the operations and maintenance budget and the state specials. The operations and maintenance appropriation was reduced by 19.5%. There is a 14.6% increase in funding for the U/Mayo partnership in the bill and a 15.6% increase to the health sciences specials. The agriculture and Extension special, Institute of Technology special and the system special were each reduced by 7.0%. The new system special language does not reference that funds are included for the Humphrey exhibit. The University would continue to receive annual appropriations of $22.3 million for the academic health center from tobacco proceeds.

H.F. 1101 also contains provisions for the U of M:

Other provisions in the bill pertaining to all of higher education include:

The state grant program saw an 11.9% increase for student financial aid while the overall increase to the Office of Higher Education was 5.8%.

Next week, it is expected that the House Higher Education Committee will take testimony on this bill on Tuesday before it moves to Ways and Means. It is anticipated that the Senate will introduce their bill on Monday and hear it in committee on Wednesday. We will keep you updated as the omnibus bills move through the legislature.

March 11, 2011

House and Senate Announce Budget Targets

Yesterday, the House and Senate leadership announced budget targets for each of the finance divisions. Unlike previous years, the budget targets for the House and Senate higher education finance divisions are the same—$2,505,518,000. This number is 14.1% lower than the Minnesota Management and Budget forecasted base for higher education of $2,916,580,000. The next step will be for each of the two higher education committees to produce their own omnibus bills that divide this reduction between the University of Minnesota, MnSCU and state financial aid. Depending on how the committees choose to allocate the reductions, the University's budget reduction could be more or less than 14.1%. These finance bills must pass out of committees by March 25th; however, it is probable that legislators will move these bills earlier than this deadline.

Tuition Freeze and Cap Legislation Receives House Higher Education Hearing

On Tuesday, March 8, the House Higher Education Committee heard legislation that would mandate a tuition freeze for two years and then place a tuition cap on future years. This is the companion bill to legislation that was heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee last month. President Bruininks sent a letter to legislators regarding the University's opposition to this legislation. Donna Peterson testified before the committee emphasizing three main points:

This bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus higher education finance bill.

Senate Higher Education Committee Hears Administrative Spending Cuts Bill

On Monday, March 7, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard a bill that would mandate the University and MnSCU to reduce their administrative costs that are paid with state funds by 10%. The committee amended the bill by changing the mandate to a request for the University of Minnesota. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus higher education finance bill.

LCCMR Project Presentations

The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) met on Monday, March 7 to hear presentations on projects that had been previously approved by the commission. These brief presentations gave new commission members a better sense of the proposals and will be scored by commission members and discussed at the next meeting on Monday, March 14. Also, the commission will hear presentations on three previously approved University proposals. These three projects were removed from the funding recommendation list last week, but are now being reconsidered.

Agriculture Special Appropriation Presentation

Dean Beverly Durgan and Dean Allen Levine provided testimony about the agriculture special appropriation before the House Higher Education Committee on March 10. The deans provided historical data about the size and funding trends in this state special over time, along with how the University uses the funds. The deans highlighted how the agriculture special dollars leverage federal funding magnifying its importance to Minnesota's agricultural community. Currently, this special line item in the higher education bill provides 16% of University Extension's funding and 14% of funding for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Science. The level of funding for the agriculture special in the next biennium will be determined in the higher education committees' omnibus bills.

Agriculture and Water Quality Presentation

Carl Rosen, head of the Department of Soil, Water and Climate and Satish Gupta, professor, Soil, Water & Climate testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, March 8. They presented research they have conducted on agriculture and water quality in Minnesota. The chair of the committee called the hearing one of the best agriculture hearings he had ever attended.

Bell Museum Legacy Funding Request

On Wednesday, March 9, the Bell Museum of Natural History and the Minnesota Planetarium Society (MNPS) made a request to the House Legacy Funding Division to produce statewide education programs that connect Minnesotans to their cultural and natural history. The presentation was made by Dr. Susan Weller and Angus Vaughan, president of the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center. Like its predecessors History of the Land (Bell Media) and Native American Cultural Perspectives on Astronomy (MNPS ExploraDome), Cycle of Our Seasons will support Minnesota's K12 curriculum and new science standards by targeting middle school students and their teachers. The proposal also includes programming for the general public, especially families.

Event Ticket Legislation Passes Out of Commerce Committees

This week both the House and Senate Commerce Committees took action on the event ticket legislation, which also received hearings last week. The Senate referred the bill to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and the House sent the bill to the General Register to be voted on by the entire House. Both bill authors indicated that there are likely to be several changes to this bill before final action is taken and University ticket professionals will take part in those discussions.

Minnesota Science and Technology Authority Program

On Thursday, March 10, the House Taxes Committee heard legislation that would establish a Minnesota science and technology program. After a robust discussion about financing this program through a personal income tax increment financing tool within the industry, the committee chose to lay the bill over for possible inclusion in the omnibus tax bill, which is expected to be introduced next week.

Legislative Network Call To Action

Today, a call to action was issued to the University's Legislative Network. The network is a coalition of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members who share a commitment to higher education and the University of Minnesota. The call to action was issued in response to the recent release of budget targets by the legislature this week. University supporters are asked to contact their legislators and seek support for the U.

March 8, 2011

February Budget Forecast Released

On Monday, February 28, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released the 2011 February budget forecast. The summary reads, "A $264 million projected increase in the expected ending balance for the current biennium combined with an $896 million improvement in the budget forecast for the 2012-2013 biennium outlook has reduced next biennium's projected budget deficit to $5.028 billion, $1.160 billion less than forecast in November" (p. 1). The results of this forecast will be the basis for the budget decisions that will be made this session for the 2012-13 biennium. The legislature set March 25 as the deadline for all budget bills to pass out of finance divisions and committees, so the activity at the Capitol will intensify greatly around the budget issues in the coming weeks. The House and Senate are expected to release budget targets this week. For more details about this forecast, please visit the following links.

Forecast summary: http://www.state.mn.us/mmb/summary-nov11.pdf (PDF)
Complete forecast: http://www.state.mn.us/mmb/complete-nov11.pdf (PDF)
MMB's main page/other resources: http://www.state.mn.us/mmb/

Academic Health Center Overview in House Higher Education Committee

Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Medical School Dr. Aaron Friedman conducted the leadership of the Academic Health Center (AHC) schools in their overview presentation to the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, March 1. Dr. Friedman was accompanied by all of the deans of the AHC schools (Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Veterinary Medicine). The hearing provided members of the committee with an overview of each of the AHC schools, their research focus and sources of funding. There was also extensive discussion about how our schools are working to meet the workforce needs in the health
science fields across the state.

Dr. Daniel J. Garry, director of the Lillehei Heart Institute and chief of the Cardiovascular Division in the Department of Medicine also addressed the committee. To illustrate the breakthrough technologies and treatments discovered at the University, Dr. Garry used a human heart with a pacemaker attached to remind the committee how vital research conducted at the University contributes to the private economy through the formation of companies like Medtronic. Not to be outdone, Dr. Patricia J. Dickman, a medical resident in the Department of Psychiatry, used a human brain as a prop when discussing her work in the field of psychiatry. Watch the video below to view a portion of the testimony:

Event Ticket Legislation Proposed

Both the House and Senate Commerce Committees heard legislation relating to event ticket sales last week. The bill would restrain the teams, venues, and/or promoters from using certain methods of non-paper ticketing. As amended, the provisions of this legislation would apply to venues over 2500 seats, and would impact several on-campus venues. Proponents of this bill are the secondary market ticket industry and the website companies through which they operate. Opponents include all major league sports teams, ballparks and arena managers, arts organizations and concert promoters. The University is on record opposing this bill in its current form, and we will be meeting with legislators to attempt to address the needs of our ticketed events on campus. No vote was taken on this bill in House or Senate committees last week, although the plan is for the committees to take action this week.

Testimonies on Governor Dayton's Budget Proposal Continue

Committees continued to hear testimonies on various parts of Governor Dayton's budget proposal last week. Dr. Patrick Lloyd, dean of the School of Dentistry, and Dr. Mac Baird, head of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, testified before the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 1 about the impact that budget reductions proposed in Governor Dayton's budget would have on their programs. Both highlighted how the proposed reductions in state funding to medical education would affect University dental outreach clinics and the training of physicians across the state.

University LCCMR Recommendations Removed

After a year-long process that included 43 hours of public hearings, an RFP process, and peer review of the scientific proposals, the LCCMR (Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources) met on Monday, February 28 and removed 22 proposals from their previous recommendations to the legislature.

Approximately two hours prior to the meeting, Representative McNamara and Senator Ingebrigtsen, chairs of the House and Senate Environment Committees, sent a letter to the commission objecting to 25 projects that had been previously recommended by the commission to the legislature. During the meeting, three of these 25 projects were moved to a list for further consideration at a later meeting. These three projects, along with twelve other recommended projects, will receive further review within the next two weeks to see if they will stay in the commission's recommendations to the legislature.

This action cut 18 University-based proposals from funding consideration. The new legislative leadership essentially has decided to shift the direction of the LCCMR program, focusing on more traditional outdoors projects - e.g., woods, streams and animals - and straying from research activities, especially relating to climate, energy or air pollution issues.

VP Mulcahy Testifies on Science and Technology Program Legislation

Vice President of Research Tim Mulcahy testified before the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee on legislation that would establish a Minnesota science and technology program. VP Mulcahy has testified numerous times in the past two years on the need for the state to have a comprehensive economic development plan. The bill passed out of committee, and was re-referred to the Taxes Committee.

Students and Faculty Presentations in the Senate

On Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard presentations from students and faculty at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Two students, Matt Forstie & Peter Erkula testified about their positive experiences at the University of Minnesota and why they chose the University. In addition, three faculty members, Russ Luepker, Mayo Professor in the School of Public Health; Phyllis Moen, McKnight Presidential Chair in Sociology; and Tom Molitor, chair of Veterinary Population Medicine; testified about their work with students, their research, and how the two intersect.

February 25, 2010

President Bruininks Testifies Before House Higher Education Committee

Earlier this session, the House of Representatives leadership sent a letter to all state agencies, including the University, requesting financial data as well as an explanation of how a 15% and a 20% reduction in state funds would be absorbed. On Tuesday, February 22 the House Higher Education Committee asked the University of Minnesota to present this information to its members, as well as respond to the governor's budget proposal. Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter provided a financial overview of how the University is funded and how the funds are allocated and expended. President Bruininks then addressed the impact a 15% or 20% reduction would have on the University. Watch President Bruininks' testimony.

Rally to Restore Affordability

Nearly 300 University of Minnesota students from around the state gathered in the Capitol Rotunda for a rally to draw attention to higher education funding. There to help cheer them on were Governor Mark Dayton, Congressman Keith Ellison, Senator David Senjem and President Bruininks. All spoke on the importance of the University as a driver of economic prosperity in Minnesota, and how funding must be maintained to continue the University's work in teaching and learning, innovation and discovery, and public engagement and outreach. As one of the University's annual advocacy events, this was the first time a sitting governor and congressman have attended.

Following the rally, students made 156 different meetings with legislators to personally discuss why they chose the University and why funding is important from a student perspective. The event received much coverage in the media—in print, on television, and social media including KMSP-TV, KARE-11, KSTP-TV and MinnPost.

The rally was organized and sponsored by the Minnesota Student Association.

New Regents Elected by the Legislature

On Monday, February 21 a joint session of the Minnesota House and Senate elected four members to the Board of Regents. The three newly elected regents are Steve Sviggum (2nd congressional district), David McMillian (8th congressional district), and Laura Brod (at large). Regent David Larson (3rd congressional district) was re-elected for another term. Regents serve six-year terms and assume their responsibilities immediately upon election.

House Capital Investment Committee Hears Governor Dayton's Proposal

This week the House Capital Investment Committee held a hearing on the governor's bonding recommendations. As you recall, the governor provided funding for construction of a new physics and nanotechnology building, the relocation of research laboratories that will be disrupted by the future Central Corridor LRT, and Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). Vice President Kathleen O'Brien testified about the importance of these three projects for the University community, as well as for the State of Minnesota.

Renewable Energy Development Fund Discussions Continue

The Institute on Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) continued to meet with legislators this week to discuss the redesign of the Renewable Development Fund from Excel Energy. This fund was created as part of the agreement that allowed Excel to store spent nuclear fuel at its Prairie Island nuclear facility. IREE receives $5 million per year from this fund to conduct research on renewable energy.

President-designate Kaler Meets With Legislative Leaders

President-Designate Kaler spent time both Thursday and Friday meeting key leaders of the House and Senate. This was his first introduction to the legislators.

February 21, 2011

Governor Dayton Releases Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, February 15 Governor Dayton released his biennial budget. As anticipated, his budget cuts numerous programs and raises taxes. The proposal (pg. 12) states, "The Governor recommends a 6% reduction from base to the University of Minnesota's General Fund appropriations in FY 2012 and FY 2013, for a total biennial reduction of $77.058 million. This includes the University's operating and maintenance, agricultural and extension services, health sciences, institute of technology, system specials and U-Mayo Partnership appropriations." The proposal also points out, "Higher education is a top priority of this administration. However, given the current budget climate, reductions in this area must be made. To reduce the impact on the core research, education and outreach elements of the University's mission, the University is encouraged to maximize efficiency in activities that are not directly related to this mission. While this is a 6% reduction from the University's FY 2012-13 base, it does provide a $12.4 million (1.9%) increase from FY 2010-11 to FY 2012-13."

There are a number of provisions in the Governor's proposed budget that will have an impact on the schools of the Academic Health Center (AHC). As was the case in 2010, the governor has proposed some major reductions in the Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC) program, financed through the Department of Health. Governor Dayton proposes eliminating $5.3 million in direct payments to UMMC-Fairview, the AHC, and the School of Dentistry. These funds help support a number of vital medical education activities, including the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) programs throughout the state and several regional dental clinics. The governor has also proposed reducing the state's financial participation in the portion of MERC funds that are distributed generally across the state to support medical education in hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies by roughly 50%
($25 million).

For more information on the budget proposal, please visit the following links:
Governor Dayton's Budget Proposal - University of Minnesota (PDF)
Governor Dayton's Budget Proposal - Office of Higher Education (PDF)
Governor Dayton's Full Budget Proposal

Read President Bruininks' statement about the impact of the governor's budget on the University.

The legislature has now begun their hearings on the governor's budget. On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Office of Higher Education appeared before the House Higher Education Committee to discuss the details of the governor's budgets and the effects it would have on the agency.

This Tuesday, Feb. 22, President Bruininks will appear before the House Higher Education Committee. The hearing will be an overview of the University's finances and operations, well as an opportunity for President Bruininks to respond to how the University might accommodate a 15% or 20 % reduction in state funding.

Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics Overview

The Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee received an update from the Minnesota Partnership on Biotechnology and Medical Genomics on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Testimony on partnership activities was provided by Dr. Mark Paller, executive vice dean of the U of M Medical School, and Dr. Eric Wieben, director of the Genomics Center at the Mayo Clinic. The testimony reviewed past partnership activities and accomplishments, as well the future plans for the recently launched "Decade of Diabetes Discovery."

Board of Regents Nominees Elected

A joint House and Senate Higher Education Committee meeting was held this past week to select a slate of four candidates for the four Board of Regents seats that are up for re-election. All 201 members of the House and Senate will meet in the House Chamber on Monday, February 21 to elect four Regents.

Senate Energy Committee Hearing on Renewable Energy Development Fund

Jon Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment, appeared before the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications on Tuesday, February 15 to give an overview of the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE). The committee is reviewing the structure of the Renewable Development Fund, which is the source of funding for IREE. The legislative auditor reviewed this fund and issued a report last fall and the legislature is using that report as the basis for their discussions.

Dr. Foley reviewed the legislative history of IREE and the mandate that IREE was given by the legislature. He then presented the rigorous review process that all grant applications go through before receiving any IREE funding. His presentation concluded by highlighting several grants that IREE has given to faculty members that have led to large federal research projects across the renewable energy spectrum. He stressed to the committee that this modest state investment has positioned the University of Minnesota as a leader national in renewable energy research.

Tuition Freeze and Increase Limitation Legislation Hearing

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the Senate Higher Education Committee heard a bill for a temporary freeze and permanent tuition increase limitations at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU. Several University faculty and one student testified on the legislation: Robin Wright, associate dean of College of Biological Sciences; Caroline Hayes, professor of Mechanical Engineering; Christopher Uggen, professor and chair of Sociology; Emily Hoover, professor of Horticultural Science; and Jonathan Schmidt, a junior majoring in economics and chemistry. The faculty and student acknowledged that while they appreciate that the legislature is sensitive to the issue of college affordability, they have strong concerns about the ramifications this legislation would have on the quality of education that the University is able to provide. No action was taken on the bill. Although it appears the committee will not pursue a tuition freeze, they may consider a tuition cap.

DFLer Carly Melin Wins Iron Range Special Election

This week, Carly Melin, a Hibbing attorney, defeated Republican Paul Jacobson with 60% of the vote in a special election. Melin replaces former Representative Tony Sertich who was appointed commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board by Governor Dayton.

Rally to Restore Affordability

February 22 will be a momentous day for University students across the state. Tuesday is the annual U of M student day at the Minnesota State Capitol. Formerly known as "Support the U Day," this year's theme, following the Jon Stewart rally theme, is called "Rally to Restore Affordability." There are a range of speakers in addition to students, including Governor Mark Dayton, Representative Keith Ellison, Senator David Senjem, and President Bruininks.

Shuttle buses between Coffman Union and the State Capitol will run continuously from 10:00am - 2:30pm. Coordinate campus students from Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and Crookston will also bus in for the event. The event kicks off at
11:00 am, and the rally in the rotunda begins at 12:00 pm, followed by lunch and meetings with legislators.

The rally was recently featured in a Star Tribune article available here. If you'd like more information on the rally, visit msa.umn.edu/rally. The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Student Association.

February 11, 2011

Governor Proposes Bonding Bill

Governor Dayton released his capital bonding bill proposal last week at a press conference. Amid $531 million worth of projects, Governor Dayton included $51.3 million to build a new physics and nanotechnology lab, $12.5 million to relocate research laboratories that will be disrupted by the future Central Corridor LRT, and $35 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funding for the University of Minnesota. Three University of Minnesota students appeared at the press conference at the invitation of the governor: Molly Krogstad, a senior in physics; Andrew Lyle, a graduate student in electrical engineering; and Stephen Snyder, a graduate student in physics. Although the governor desires to pass a $1 billion bill, he left the allocation of the remaining $469 million in projects up to the legislature.

State of the State

On Wednesday, Governor Dayton presented his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate. The Governor introduced his "Five-Point Plan for Future Prosperity", one of the points being investment in education. During his speech the governor recognized President Bruininks as a special guest of the event, along with other Minnesota leaders in education. See a complete copy of the State of the State speech.

Over the past few weeks, President Bruininks has been meeting with the governor and legislators to discuss the University's contributions to the state of Minnesota.

2012-2013 Biennial Budget

This week, the legislature passed its first bill of the session – a $900 million state budget reduction. The legislation included $89.2 million in funding cuts to the University of Minnesota. However, Governor Dayton vetoed the bill less than two hours after its passage. In the governor's veto letter, he disagreed with the legislature's "piecemeal approach to addressing the projected deficit for the next biennium". He also stated "Your immediate cuts of funds for higher education, [….] show misguided priorities, which should be reviewed in the context of other alternatives." Read the full veto letter (PDF).

On February 15, Governor Dayton will present his budget proposal to the legislature. He is expected to take a significantly different approach to solving the estimated $6.5 billion deficit than the Republican legislative majority. Governor Dayton has said he will include changes to Minnesota's regressive tax structure in the form of tax increases, despite strong Republican opposition.

The state's budget forecast will be released shortly after, on February 28 and will project the actual budget deficit, which is critical for the development of the state's biennial budget. These two events will underline the challenges legislators face as they decide how to balance the state's budget this session.

Students and Faculty Testify Before House Higher Ed Committee

University faculty, Caroline C. Hayes, Emily Hoover, and Liz Boyle testified in the House Higher Education committee on Thursday, February 10th. They highlighted the quality of our students and the education they receive at the University by sharing stories from their own classes. They stressed the unique opportunities that are available to students at the University through research and interaction with world-class faculty. They also touched on the difficulties that tighter budgets are creating here at the University for both students and faculty.

University students Peter Erkkila and Matt Forstie also gave testimony before the committee. Both and Peter and Matt talked about the quality of their educational experience at the University; however, they expressed concern over the ramifications of budget cuts. Noting that rising tuition is a concern, the students also stated that the prospect of larger class sizes and fewer class offerings would make it more difficult to complete their education in a timely fashion. The students requested that the committee do all they could to support the University.

Science and Technology Program Legislation Passes Committee

On Thursday, February 10, the House Government Operations and Elections Committee heard a bill that would establish a science and technology program. This legislation is the result of an effort led by Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy, among others, and would plot the course for the state creating an authority to finance activities to bolster the state's efforts in commercializing research, assisting entities in seeking federal funding opportunities, and in promoting innovation and competitiveness in the science and technology areas. This program would be funded through a special revenue fund, financed by the existing science and technology companies doing business in the state. The bill passed out of the committee and was referred to the House Committee on Jobs and Economic Development Finance for further action.

University Innovations

Legislators attended University Innovations, an event celebrating the exceptional contributions of 161 University inventors. Innovation and discovery have always been a proud part of the University's history and will continue to be an important part of the dialogue in St. Paul as economic development and job growth remain a top priority.

Also this week, Vice President of Research Tim Mulcahy wrote an article emphasizing the importance of developing a collaborative strategy to foster economic development competiveness in Minnesota.

Read the article.

House Passes Deadlines

The Minnesota House adopted the following finance and policy deadlines this week:

Friday, March 25: All finance bills must be referred to Ways & Means, the last stop before the floor.

Friday, April 29: All policy bills must be on the general register, ready for a final floor vote, in at least one of the bodies.

Friday, May 6: All policy bills must be on the general register, ready for a final floor vote in both bodies.

In the past, policy deadlines have always preceded the finance deadline, but this change is meant to demonstrate the House Republicans' commitment to resolving the state's budget deficit before other policy issues.

January 21, 2011

2012-2103 Biennial Budget

Last week, the legislature took a first step in reducing the state's budget deficit. Their legislation reduces the state's budget deficit by about $1 billion. The University of Minnesota's reduction is $89.2 million. During the last session the legislature increased the University's base for the coming biennium by $102.2 million. This $89.2 million cut is off that projected increase for the 2012-2013 biennial budget, not our current year actual appropriation level. The University would have used this money to fill key faculty positions, invest in student financial aid, and meet rising core costs based upon inflation forecasts of 1.5% per year provided by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget.

The Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate has said that this is part one of a budget solution and that there will be another round of budget cuts to balance the state's deficit. The House and Senate expect to move these bills out of their respective Finance and Ways and Means Committees next week and possibly deliver a bill to the governor next week. It is unclear if the governor will accept this legislation or veto it. The governor is required by law to provide the legislature with a complete and balanced budget and he has stated that he is not interested in receiving from the legislature partial or incomplete budget balancing plans. Also this week, the governor appointed the new commissioner of the Office of Higher Education. See the governor's press release.

Capital Request

Last week, the governor said that he is planning to present a $1 billion capital bonding proposal to the legislature in the near future. Based upon debt management guidelines prepared by the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget, the state would typically authorize roughly $140 million in new capital projects in the odd number legislature session and $775 million in the even numbers legislative session.

Legislative Briefing

On Wednesday, January 21, 2011, more than 400 University students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends from all campuses gathered to join in rallying for the U during the 2011 legislative session. The evening included messages from President Bruininks and UMAA National Board of Directors Chair Ertugrul Tuzcu. Peggy Flanagan delivered this year's keynote address and spoke about how our personal stories matter in influencing legislators and lawmaking. Attendees also created personalized 'Because' photographs that will be sent to legislators throughout the state, emphasizing the widespread support for the U throughout the state. Watch video coverage of the event.

U at the Capitol

President Bruininks presented to both the House Higher Education Committee and the Senate Higher Education Committee last week. He presented an overview of the University of Minnesota and explained how the teaching, research and outreach missions contribute to the citizens of Minnesota and the state. View the presentation (PDF). As both committees have large numbers of new legislators, much of his time before the committees was used to answer questions.

On January 20, University of Minnesota Extension hosted 55 people representing every area of the state for the fifth Extension Day at the Capitol. This event includes citizen advocates with backgrounds as varied as county Extension committee members, county commissioners, statewide citizen advisory groups, a University regent, sustainable development partners, master gardeners, nine members of the University Lead Advisory Academy and Extension's regional directors. Following an Extension legislative briefing in the morning, participants went to the Capitol to meet with legislators from their districts to ask for support for the University and Extension. More than 60 legislative visits were held on Thursday afternoon.

This Week and Beyond at the Capitol

On January 27th the deans of CFANS, Veterinary Medicine, and Extension will be presenting an overview of how the University and agriculture interact in Minnesota to both the House and Senate agriculture committees.

Governor Dayton will present his State of the State address on February 9th to a joint session of the House and Senate.

January 7, 2011

On Tuesday, January 4 the 2011 legislative session convened.

Makeup of the Legislature

For the first time in over 40 years, Republicans control both legislative bodies and for the first time in 20 years there is a Democrat as governor. The House of Representatives is controlled by the GOP, with a 72-62 majority; and the Senate is also controlled by the GOP at 37-30 members. There are 60 new members of the legislature, with 36 new members in the House and 24 in the Senate.

House Leadership:

Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (Rep. R-Maple Grove)
Majority Leader Matt Dean (Rep. R-Dellwood)
Minority Leader Paul Thissen (Rep. D-Minneapolis)

Senate Leadership:

President of the Senate Michelle Fischbach (Rep. R-Paynesville)
Majority Leader Amy Koch (Rep. R-Buffalo)
Minority Leader Tom Bakk (Rep. D-Cook)

See detailed information about the legislature and the members (PDF).

Schedule

January is typically a slow time in the session; however, this year looks to be an exception given all of the new members, leadership, and the strong will to start working. Once Governor Dayton submits his budget in mid-February, the session will be in full swing.

Many details of the legislative schedule are not finalized, but a few important dates and times have been set: the House Higher Education committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 2:45 p.m. in room 5 of the State Office Building and the Senate committee meets Mondays and Wednesdays in room 107 of the Capitol from 3:00 – 5:30 p.m.

2012 – 2013 Biennial Budget

The Governor will present his budget sometime before mid-February. However legislative leaders have indicated that they will begin introducing plans for their budget process as soon as next week. The state's budget forecast will be released at the end of February and this forecast will project the actual budget deficit that will be used to develop the state's biennial budget. There will be significant differences between the Governor and the Republican legislative majority on how to solve the expected $6.5 billion deficit. Governor Dayton is making it clear that he will propose tax increases and tax changes with the goal of having a tax structure that is not regressive, while the Republican majority is making it clear that they will not support tax increases.

Capital Request

In the legislative session that passes the biennial budget, the capital bonding bills have typically been small and focused on critical projects. Governor Dayton campaigned on having a large (possibly $1 billion) capital bonding bill. The Governor believes that these capital projects will create jobs in the private sector, thus helping the state's economy. At the December meeting, the Board of Regents was presented list of projects for consideration by the Governor and legislature if there is a bonding bill. The Governor indicated that he might present a bonding bill by the end of January, while the Republican legislative leadership has indicated that if they consider a bonding bill it will be after the work on the budget has been completed and that any bonding bill should focus only on transportation and other such necessary projects. Many Capitol observers believe that by the end of the session there could be bonding bill of some substance, as it could be part of a global agreement to find a compromise on the biennial budget.

Grassroots Advocacy

In a year when the legislature is in new hands, priorities at the Capitol are shifting, and there is a wealth of freshman legislators, grassroots advocacy for the University's legislative priorities is all the more important. As a University, advocacy efforts are coordinated through the Legislative Network, an affiliation of faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters that communicate with legislators and opinion leaders in seeking support for the University. You can sign up to become a member of the network (here) and engage in legislative support of the University. If you're interested in serving on the University's legislative advocacy committee, please contact the Legislative Network at legnet@umn.edu.

Legislative Briefing

One of the hallmark functions of the Legislative Network is the Legislative Briefing. The University of Minnesota will hold its annual briefing from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the McNamara Alumni Center.

Themed "Because," the Legislative Briefing brings together alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends to share their stories and rally behind the U's 2011 legislative priorities. Participants will be encouraged to increase their grassroots advocacy efforts on behalf of the U throughout the legislative session.

New this year, attendees of the Legislative Briefing will create personal "Because" photos to be sent to their legislators, illustrating how and why constituents from around the state support the U. The event is expected to draw more than 400 attendees. Advocates may participate in the briefing via live webcast on the U's coordinate campuses as well. If you would like to attend, please register at supporttheU.umn.edu by Jan. 11.

The 2011 Legislative Briefing is sponsored in part by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

U at the Capitol

On the opening day of session, Dr. Deb Swackhamer, director of the U of M Water Resources Center appeared before the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources committee. The center provides leadership in freshwater management through cutting-edge research, educational opportunities for students and professionals, and community outreach. Dr. Swackhamer presented the center's annual report to the committee.