Representatives of the university submitted their additional budget request to the higher education committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, leaving some members of the Republican Party unsure of the size of the request.
On February 8, University of Minnesota President Joan Goebel and other administration officials submitted a $ 936 billion budget proposal to the higher education committees of the Minnesota House and Senate, making Republicans feel “concerned” about the size of the proposal.
The senators did not openly support any specific parts of the plans. They inquired about the budget’s intentions and asked why there was no more funding in some areas, such as public safety. Representatives of the university said that the budget is not only an investment in the institution, but also in the communities they serve.
The university did not ask for anything other than the initial budget approved in December. This is the first time university officials have submitted a request to lawmakers for a budget for 2022.
Lawmakers are questioning how the money will be spent
Republican Sen. Jason Rarick and MP Marion O’Neill cited Gabel’s new rise as a point of curiosity in future discussions. O’Neill said she had a hard time asking the state for “almost a billion dollars” if Gabel would earn $ 1.2 million a year until 2026, in addition to the fact that the sporting director might get a raise. Following that meeting, the University Council on Friday approved a contract extension for athletic director Mark Coyle, which includes an annual salary increase.
“It’s a competitive platform for talent at all levels,” Goebel said at a Senate hearing. “We strive as an institution and as an employee of this institution to put our employees on average at the center of the market, and that’s what we do all the time.”
The proposal provides $ 185 million for public safety. Rarik specifically asked about the size of the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) as well as the collaboration between the university and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) after the university “retreated” from the MPD. He later asked about the level of hiring and retention.
Goebel said the UMPD and MPD were “partnerships all the time” with respect to neighborhoods around campus such as Marcy-Holmes.
“That was lost in great intensity [in spring of 2020] for our community, what we specifically said was that the MPD is our patrol partner around general investigations and around areas under their jurisdiction, ”Gabel said at the meeting. “And that has never changed.”
She said the UMPD staff has grown beyond historic levels with an additional three officers, which means coverage is shifting more.
“It’s a matrix set of security solutions, especially when it happens in your jurisdiction and beyond, but we feel that one community and shared security is our top priority,” Goebel said.
Nearly half of the university’s budget proposal is for physical infrastructure, with $ 400 million for requests to preserve and replace higher education assets and a combined $ 73.6 million for the renovation of STEM buildings on twin and Duluth campuses. Senator Michael Gogin asked if the university would include cost-saving ideas to keep structures intact instead of building new buildings.
Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Miran Frans said his plan would depend on logistics; he wants to achieve “balance” if possible by preserving historic buildings, but be realistic if a new building is structurally unusable and needs to be restored.
The legal difficulties between the legislature and the university are complicated by the constitutional autonomy of the university from the state.
“I understand that we have no authority over the U budget. We just give them money and say, ‘Please do good things with them,'” Senator Arik Putnam said. As soon as the money came to the university, he said, “We can’t tell you what to do with it.”