State Relations Updates

Governor Walz releases capital investment recommendations

On January 16, Governor Walz released his capital investment recommendations for the upcoming legislative session, providing $102.9 million for the renewal of existing University of Minnesota facilities and infrastructure. 

Interim President Ettinger responded in a statement saying the plan “acknowledges the University’s long list of critical infrastructure needs among the many requests considered from across Minnesota. By including the University, the Governor and Lt. Governor have highlighted the importance of taking care of what our public universities already have, preserving and modernizing these facilities for current students and future Minnesotans. We will continue to work with the Walz-Flanagan Administration and state lawmakers to build our case for the University's entire $500 million request, recognizing discussions about state investments will evolve throughout the legislative session.” Read the full statement

The University’s $500 million capital request includes more than 150 Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) projects on four campuses and 11 research and outreach centers. These projects include building accessibility needs, fire protection systems, leaky roofs and windows, asbestos abatement and other core maintenance issues that must be corrected to provide safe and usable spaces. 

The University of Minnesota System relies on capital investment (usually funded by issuing general obligation bonds) to renew and maintain existing University facilities. HEAPR funding:

  • Reduces operating costs
  • Helps avoid costly emergency repairs
  • Increases safety and accessibility
  • Supports student learning and success
  • Enables the University to increase key program enrollment to meet Minnesota’s workforce needs
  • Improves research capabilities
  • Increases collaboration spaces to promote innovation
  • Helps retain and attract top educators and researchers

Capital investment — also called bonding — is the top priority for state leaders in the upcoming legislative session. 

State bonding bill provides $136 million for U of M projects

In the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, the House and Senate passed a bonding bill providing $136 million dollars for two of the University’s requested projects: 

  • $43.35 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) systemwide
  • $92.6 million for Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories on the Twin Cities campus

This is the first bonding bill to pass the legislature since 2020, and the bill is now on its way to Governor Walz for signature. Bonding bills are more challenging to pass because they require a 2/3 majority. Your advocacy was critical to help garner Senate votes in the last days of session: UMN Advocates sent 764 messages to state elected officials last week in support of the University’s capital request. 

View a comparison of the capital investment proposals during the 2023 legislative session.

In sum, the Minnesota Legislature passed 70 bills this session. The higher education budget bill is expected to be signed by the governor this morning. Many additional bills impact the University, including a bill that ensures its academic health facilities— the University Medical Center East and West Bank hospitals and the Masonic Children’s Hospital—cannot be owned or controlled by a for-profit or out-of-state entity, unless the attorney general, in consultation with the commissioner of health and Board of Regents, determines ownership or control by a for-profit entity or out-of-state entity is in the public interest. Read the press release.

Higher ed bill passes Minnesota Legislature

This week, the House and Senate passed the final version of the higher education budget bill. The bill is now on its way to Governor Walz. 

The bill provides more than $118.1 million in FY24-25 for three of the University’s six requested budget items:

  • Core mission support: competitive compensation; tutoring, advising, and other essential student services; classroom equipment and supplies; facility maintenance; and technology.
  • Systemwide safety and security: modernize systemwide security infrastructure such as building access controls and cameras.
  • American Indian Scholars Program: provide full undergraduate tuition and fee scholarships for eligible Minnesota American Indian students at any of the University of Minnesota’s five campuses.

The funding represents about 39% of what the University requested. View a comparison of the University request and the proposals.

The bill also provides funding to the University for additional items, including:

  • Unemployment insurance aid
  • Access to menstrual products
  • Applied research at the Natural Resources Research Institute 
  • Medical programs at the CentraCare Health System Campus in St. Cloud

Thank you UMN Advocates who live in higher education conference committee member districts who sent emails to their legislators and impacted the final outcome of this bill.

MN House and Senate release higher education bills

On Monday, March 27, the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee released its omnibus bill, which provides a little more than $193 million in FY24-25 for four of the six items in the University’s budget request:

  • Core Mission Support (competitive compensation; equipment and supplies; facilities; and technology): $135 million 
  • Enrollment Driven Tuition Shortfall: $48 million
  • Systemwide Safety and Security: $10 million
  • American Indian Scholars Program: $17 million is included in the bill for the University and MN State, but the distribution is unknown.

Yesterday, March 28, the Senate Higher Education Committee released its omnibus bill, which provides a little over $70 million in FY24-25 for two of the six items in the University’s budget request:

  • Core Mission Support (competitive compensation; equipment and supplies; facilities; and technology): $70 million
  • American Indian Scholars Program: $17 million is included in the bill for the University and MN State, but the distribution is unknown.

View a comparison of the budget proposals for the University.
Although the State of Minnesota is facing a $17.5 billion surplus, only $5 billion of that is projected to be ongoing. As a result, additional ongoing funding for the University in FY26-27 is significantly less than requested. We know there are many competing demands for funding from the legislature. That’s why we need your help to encourage lawmakers to fully fund the University’s request.
Your advocacy will be critical after legislators return from break on April 11. As soon as both the House and Senate pass their versions of the higher education omnibus bill, we will be counting on your help to urge conference committee members, through targeted UMN Advocates action alerts, to increase state funding to support University students, faculty and staff. Legislators especially want to hear from constituents living in their districts; your voice matters.

Become a UMN Advocate to ensure the University of Minnesota is a priority in budget negotiations.

Governor Walz revises budget recommendations

On Thursday, March 16, Governor Walz increased his budget recommendation for the University by $52 million for FY24-25. The governor’s revised proposal increases University's core mission support by $42 million, for a total of $112 million. The proposal also includes $10 million for systemwide campus safety and security. Learn more about the governor's budget recommendations.

While we appreciate this increased funding recommendation, we will continue to advocate for our full budget request which recognizes inflationary cost increases and supports competitive compensation; tutoring, advising, and other essential student services; classroom equipment and supplies; scholarship opportunities; and campus safety–with the potential to hold resident undergraduate tuition rates flat through a tuition freeze for the next two years.

The House and Senate are expected to release their higher education budget bills in the coming weeks.

Legislative leadership has expressed interest in passing two bonding bills this session. Earlier this month, the House passed its first bonding bill, which provides funding for two University projects: $39.5 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) and $92.6 million for Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories. On Thursday, March 16, the Senate voted on the bill, but did not reach the 3/5 majority required to pass. Learn more about the University's capital request

Minnesota Legislature adjourns; no budget or bonding deal

Last week, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned sine die without passing major supplemental finance bills, a tax bill, or a bonding bill. Despite a historic budget surplus, legislators grappled with election year pressures coupled with no requirement to pass budget or bonding bills. 

4 weeks left

Yesterday, Vice President of University Services Mike Berthelsen presented the University's Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) request to the Senate Capital Investment Committee. HEAPR funding allows the University to preserve and renew its existing infrastructure across the state to better serve students, support research, maximize its useful life, and ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of building users. 

Third legislative deadline at the State Capitol

Today marks the second legislative deadline at the Minnesota State Capitol. Committees must act favorably on policy bills both in the House and Senate by the end of the day, or the bills will not move forward this session absent a special rule.

Budget forecast projects $9.25 billion surplus

On Monday, February 28, Minnesota Management and Budget released the state’s latest budget forecast, projecting a historic $9.25 billion surplus. Legislative leadership will now work to set spending targets within their caucuses, while budget committee chairs identify spending or tax relief goals and priorities.

House Capital Investment hears U of M's capital request

On Tuesday, February 15, University leaders and a current student presented the University of Minnesota’s 2022 capital request to the House Capital Investment Committee.

Higher education committees hear U of M's requests

The state legislature completed its second week on Friday, with activity taking place in all committees and hundreds of new bills introduced daily. In fact, more than 1,170 bills were introduced in the session’s first two weeks alone.

Governor releases budget recommendations

On Wednesday, January 26, Governor Tim Walz released the details of his supplemental budget proposal. Minnesota is projected to have a $7.7 billion budget surplus, alongside significant federal funding. 

Governor releases capital investment recommendations

On Tuesday, January 18, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced their statewide capital investment (also known as bonding) recommendations on the Twin Cities campus. President Gabel and CSE student Mustafa Syed also gave remarks and University Architect Marc Partridge led a tour of the Child Development Building, which was funded by the state in 2020. 

Governor signs two-year budget into law

On July 1, Minnesota’s new two-year $52 billion state budget took effect. This budget, negotiated between Governor Tim Walz, the House DFL majority and the Senate Republican majority, runs through June 30, 2023. Early in the morning of July 1, the legislature passed its final bill, the omnibus tax bill.

Minnesota Legislature passes higher ed bill

After more than ten hours of debate, the omnibus higher education finance and policy bill passed the Minnesota House shortly before midnight, on June 19, by a vote of 71-57. On June 22, the Senate briefly debated the bill before passing it unanimously.