We are running out of time. The 2016 legislative session will adjourn on Monday, and legislators have yet to pass a state bonding bill.
In the coming days, legislators have the opportunity to invest in our state’s facilities, enhance our economy and keep our state at the forefront of emerging knowledge. Passing a bonding bill is critical for both the University of Minnesota and communities statewide. I call upon our state representatives and senators to act.
A bonding bill will address infrastructure that is in dire need of state investment. These projects benefit public schools, libraries, water systems, historic buildings and other public facilities at the heart of our communities. These communities deserve the support of our state government. What’s more, these construction and conservation projects will provide a boost to Minnesota’s economy by creating jobs. A bonding bill will have a strong and deep impact across Minnesota.
If the Legislature does not pass a bonding bill this session, these projects will become more expensive in the years to come, for two reasons. First, interest rates are at historic lows. In two years, materials, labor costs and interest rates could be much higher, and we will have missed a crucial window of opportunity. Second, at the University of Minnesota, we know that every $1 in facilities stewardship saves $3 in future capital renewal investment. Investing in renovations and upgrades is fiscally responsible. Postponing necessary improvements is not.
The University of Minnesota has made its request. We are seeking investment to repair unsafe, antiquated facilities. Investment to provide students with adequate lab spaces. Investment to replace obsolete buildings. Investment to prepare Minnesota’s health care professionals of tomorrow. In short, we are asking for a partnership with the Legislature to invest in our leading researchers and Minnesota’s students — our state’s future.
The university’s needs are great and urgent, as are the needs of communities across the state. Our Legislature has the opportunity and the responsibility to invest in these critical projects.
Eric W. Kaler is president of the University of Minnesota.