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Feature

Photo of the Minnesota stat capital.

Stalling out: House and Senate adjourn without passing key legislation

House and Senate adjourn without passing key legislation

By Ann Freeman and Cynthia Scott

Published May 17, 2004; Updated May 26, 2004

The 2004 Minnesota legislative session ended early Sunday morning, May 16, without passage of critical legislation, including a bonding bill to authorize state funding for construction projects, a bill to balance the budget, or a bill supporting new stadiums. Governor Tim Pawlenty has not yet indicated if he will call a special session in which these bills could still be passed. According to state law, there is no time parameter governing when a special session must be called. University President Bob Bruininks is urging University advocates to call Governor Pawlenty and ask him to convene a special session to pass a bonding bill that would fully fund the University's capital request. On May 25, Bruininks sent a letter to the governor and to all 201 members of the Minnesota Legislature reiterating the need to fund the University's capital request. (For a copy of the letter, see www.umn.edu/urelate/govrel.) "The University is world-class because generations of Minnesotans have wisely invested in its operating and capital needs," says Bruininks. "It is our shared responsibility to be wise stewards of those investments, ensuring that these public resources are maintained and upgraded."

What you can do

Call Governor Pawlenty today at 651-296-3391 or 800-657-3717 to urge him to call a special session and remind him that the University is an important investment for the future of Minnesota.

Once you've made your call, let the U's Legislative Network know at www.umn.edu/groots. so it can help the University keep track of how many calls reached the governor's office.

In January, Pawlenty recommended a $757 million bonding package for state-funded construction projects, including $76 million for the University--less than half of the University's request. The House later passed a $678 million bonding bill, which included $90.5 million for the University. But the Senate's $949 million bonding bill--which included $115 million for the University--lacked sufficient votes to pass, which effectively stalled progress on an overall bonding bill. If no bonding bill is passed in a special session, the University of Minnesota will not receive state funds needed to make necessary improvements to existing facilities and for new construction projects. Capital investments ensure that the U's facilities are up-to-date for 21st-century teaching and research. At its May meeting, Bruininks told the Board of Regents that without state bonding, the University's entire 2005 capital budget would be just $44 million--barely enough for basic maintenance. "We are at a crossroads," he says. "We cannot afford to squander our future by starving higher education." The University was also seeking support from the state to help finance a new, on-campus football stadium. Although no stadium legislation was passed this session, stadium discussions could be resumed in a special session.

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