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U of M plans to ask Legislature for $87M increase

MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota leaders plan to ask the Legislature for an additional $87 million next biennium with no promises for how they'll spend it.

That would represent a 6.7 percent increase to the two-year, $1.3 billion base appropriation the U regularly gets from the state.

"We think it's attainable," Finance Vice President Brian Burnett said.

Two years ago, the U asked for a 10.1 percent increase and ended up with 3.6 percent. The U made that request with a pledge to freeze undergraduate tuition for Minnesota residents. When the money didn't come through, they raised tuition by 2 percent each year.

This time, U administrators say they'll streamline the ask. Rather than asking the Legislature to negate the need for a tuition hike or to fund specific initiatives, they'll simply ask for more money.

If successful, the U says it still would have to come up with another $114 million over two years by cutting costs, raising tuition or finding revenue elsewhere; that assumes they'll pay back-to-back 2.5 percent increases in employee compensation.

Matt Kramer, vice president of university relations, said the needs of the university are much greater than what they're seeking.

"While the request is modest (and) it is focused on the core mission, it is significantly higher than last year's" award, he said.

The U's Board of Regents heard about the proposal Thursday, Sept. 13, but will take action later.

Regent Darrin Rosha suggested a return to the tuition-freezing strategy, saying they'd be "far more likely to have success" if lawmakers understand their priorities.

Regents also reviewed plans for the U's capital request to the Legislature.

Administrators want $200 million to maintain aging buildings, or Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR), plus $28 million to replace the Child Development Center in Minneapolis and $4.3 million to renovate A.B. Anderson Hall in Duluth.

"It's a very focused approach," Burnett said.

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