2011 State Relations Special Session Summary

Special session adjourns, Governor Dayton signs all bills

Early this morning, the legislature concluded their work passing all twelve budget bills and adjourned the special session. Governor Dayton signed all twelve bills, effectively ending the state government shutdown. Following statute, the distribution of state funds will resume tomorrow.

View the passed budget bills.

Higher education omnibus bill passes

Last night, the higher education omnibus bill passed the House 71-57 and by a much closer margin in the Senate with 35-29. This bill sets the University’s funding for each year of the biennium at $545.3 million.

The bill includes five performance measures:

  • Increase the amount of student financial aid.
  • Produce at least 13,500 total degrees systemwide in FY 2012.
  • Increase the four- and six-year undergraduate graduation rates on the Twin Cities campus.
  • Increase total research and development expenditures.
  • Increase sponsored funding from business and industry.

The bill requires 1 percent of the 2013 University appropriation be withheld until three of the five performance measures are met and reported to the legislature. In addition, the bill encourages the University to offer a guaranteed tuition plan for undergraduates for four years. The eligibility age for the senior citizens to attend the University at a reduced cost has been lowered from 66 to 62.

The bill repeals two requirements that had been applied to the University and MnSCU:

  • The University bookstore will no longer have to offer American made clothing when possible.
  • The University will no longer have to buy American made uniforms and required safety equipment.

Finally, two policy provisions that were included in the bill vetoed in May have also been removed: 

  • Tuition cap
  • Prohibition of human cloning

University receives $88.8 million in capital investment bill

As part of his budget agreement with legislative leaders, Governor Dayton required the legislature to pass a capital investment bill totaling no less than $500 million. Three University projects were included in this capital investment bill:

• Higher education asset preservation and restoration (HEAPR) - $25 million
These funds will be used to make code required improvements to elevators systemwide and to address water infiltration issues systemwide. The University’s request to the state was $35 million.
• Physics and nanotechnology - $51.3 million
In 2010, this project received a portion of the requested funding for planning purposes only. This year, the University request $51.3 million to design and construct the physics and nanotechnology building. This facility will include flexible, state-of-the-art research laboratories, a 5000 square foot clean room dedicated to nanotechnology, and a student meeting space. 
• Central Corridor transit way laboratory mitigation - $12.5 million
These funds will pay for 50 percent of the relocation of University research facilities, notably the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility, which will be disrupted by the construction vibrations and electromagnetic interference from the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit. The University and Met Council jointly requested $12.5 to provide funding for these relocation projects that the Met Council had not agreed to fund.

Although the University is grateful for Governor Dayton’s insistence on a capital investment bill as part of a budget agreement, we are disappointed the legislature did not include two additional requested projects, the Itasca facilities improvements and the American Indian Learning Resource Center at UMD.

Health and human services reductions affect the University

The final agreement for health and human services contained the governor’s original budget request for Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC). This request includes a 50 percent reduction in payments to the MERC fund for the first year of the biennium, and a 25 percent reduction in the second year. The University’s health professional programs’ affiliated training sites represent approximately 63 percent of the total MERC fund distributions, making this a significant reduction for the University.

The bill also eliminated the direct grant payments to the University's Academic Health Center (AHC), the University's Dental School, and Fairview-University Medical Center. The cut for these direct payments totals $5.35 million. These funds had been used to fund various activities within the AHC, including the dental clinics in Hibbing and Willmar, Area Health Education Center programs throughout the state, and to supplement funding for the Community-University Health Care Center in Minneapolis. We will begin working with our partners in health education to put in place a plan to deal with these reductions, which could have a huge impact on the training of health professionals.

Environment legislation funds eleven University LCCMR projects

The environment and natural resources budget bill that was also signed this morning gives $4.247 million in research projects through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is combination of contributions and investment income, including proceeds from the Minnesota State Lottery. Early in the legislative session, there was a fair amount of controversy about the process the legislature was using to determine which projects would be funded and the role the citizens commission recommendations in this process.

For a list of the eleven projects, view the spreadsheet.

View all of the State Relations Updates from the 2011 Minnesota Legislative Session.