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Bonding bill finalized

U gets funding for most capital investment projects and Minnesota Biomedical Research Program

By Rick Moore

Photo of the Minnesota State Capitol

April 7, 2008

Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced a number of line-item vetoes to the state's bonding bill, trimming it from a $925 million capital investment package approved by the legislature last week to a new bill totaling $717 million.

Pawlenty vetoed two projects that the legislature had approved for the University of Minnesota--funding for a new Bell Museum of Natural History on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul ($24 million in state funding) and for classroom renewal projects ($2 million).

The rest of the University's projects in the bonding bill were approved, and Pawlenty came out in support of the Minnesota Biomedical Research Program (MBRP), the plan that would authorize the construction of four new biomedical research buildings at the U. That project, which would be phased in over a number of years, totals $292 million--$219 million of which would be state payments toward University-issued bonds.

The new biomedical buildings will allow the U to create space to conduct interdisciplinary research in areas such as heart disease; Alzheimer's disease; and breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancer.

"We're pleased with a number of provisions included in the state capital investment bill signed today," President Bob Bruininks said in a statement. "Most importantly, our biomedical science research program will provide reliable, long-term funding for essential research infrastructure that will advance Minnesota's global economic leadership and contribute to our quality of life for generations to come. Minnesota's elected leaders and business community deserve a great deal of credit for working with us and embracing this idea, which is one of the most forward-looking state investments in recent years.

"We're disappointed that the governor chose to veto the Bell Museum of Natural History, which is our state's natural history museum. The Bell conducts critically important research on our natural environment and provides thousands of school children and University students an opportunity to use this valuable educational resource to learn more about our state's natural history and environment.

Funding that was approved for U projects includes $35 million for "HEAPR" (essentially basic infrastructure needs and building components) on all campuses, $48.3 million for a new Science Teaching and Student Services Building on the Twin Cities campus, $10 million for a civil engineering addition on the Duluth campus, $5 million for the Gateway/Community Services building on the Morris campus, $3.5 million for Research and Outreach Centers around the state, and $3.3 million for laboratory renovations.