Is the state Senate punishing the University of Minnesota through its bonding bill? Or more fairly allocating its dollars between the state's two public higher ed systems?
On Wednesday, the Senate proposed $39 million for the U system, including $35 million for repair and renovation, a category known as HEAPR, while funding the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system at $127 million -- a bigger dollar amount than even Gov. Mark Dayton had proposed.
Some wondered whether the move was a response to the Board of Regents recommending that Steve Sviggum resign either his regent post or job as communications chief of the state Senate.
"Gee, I wonder why the Senate gave MNSCU 3+ times more than the U," tweeted Prof. Chris Cramer (@ChemProfCramer), chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee. "Cool rational analysis, no doubt. Never BoR kerfuffle!"
Sviggum says no. Here's the relevant chunk of Strib reporter Jennifer Brooks' article:
"The House and Senate funding levels are woefully inadequate to meet critical needs," U President Eric Kaler said in a statement. The university was particularly unhappy that its top priority, $50 million to rebuild the university power plant, was stripped from the Senate bill. "Ultimately, this pattern of underinvestment will cripple the state's most powerful economic engine while shifting even more of the financing burden to students," Kaler said.
Sviggum said the Senate was not aiming to punish the U for forcing his resignation. "No payback, no retribution at all," he said. "It wasn't even on the radar." Sviggum said he would be disappointed if the Senate had taken punitive action "because I'm not worth that."
He did say that because of his stint as a regent, he was well-aware that the U could use its own bonding authority to raise the funds needed to refurbish the power plant.
After the dollar amounts were released, a few argued that the amount was appropriate for MnSCU. Here's what one state senator told the Minnesota Daily:
Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, said he believes the University has the capability to fund the building on its own.
Carlson said the disparity between MnSCU and the University is justifiable because of enrollment. MnSCU has about 250,000 students in 31 institutions, while the entire University of Minnesota system has nearly 64,000 students.
“I think if you take that into consideration, I think that overall we probably did better for the U than for MnSCU per student ratio,” Carlson said.
"MnSCU has far more bonding needs than the U," tweeted Geoff Dittberner (@GeoffDMN), president of the Minnesota State College Student Association. "Giving the U and MnSCU matching funds in the past was based on politics not parity."
What's your take?