University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler told reporters today that this legislative session he’ll push for more money to maintain aging buildings and offset tuition.
It was a wide-ranging forum, and I’ll try to get some more details later. But here’s what I’ve got so far on these topics:
Maintenance. After last year’s bonding request, in which Kaler said the U “did pretty well,” this year Gov. Mark Dayton’s recommendation gives the U only a fifth of the $90 million it requested for upkeep. The U needs an increase, Kaler said, because it faces some “critical repairs.” although campuses don’t face any safety issues. The renovations would expand capacity, he said, because they would enable the U to turn storerooms into labs and classrooms.
Tuition. He hammered away at the state’s role at keeping the tab low. He said:
“The facts are clear: As state support falls, tuition and the burden on families grow. And there’s a direct correlation. If state support stabilizes, or rises, we can put a lid on tuition.”
Last year, Kaler said, the U used an extra $25 million from the legislature to curb tuition increases. (That was when it got $25 million more than the “worst-case scenario” after the government shutdown. He didn’t say, though, whether the U used all or just part of the $25 million for tuition.)
Vikings. Kaler says TCF Bank stadium would be “quite adequate” as a temporary home for the Vikings. The team could use the stadium for up to three years if it decides to renovate and continue using the Metrodome in Minneapolis. To host the Vikings, the Gophers would have to add seats and heat the field, among other improvements.
U officials have said licensing and alcohol-usage policies would be negotiated, and Kaler said the U would have to work out other issues:
“The neighborhoods around the stadium certainly are impacted by our game day activities. It would be an imposition on neighborhoods. There are traffic concerns, public safety concerns, parking concerns. All of them legitimate, all of them important, and all of them ultimately addressable.”
Kaler said it’s still unclear how much it would cost for the University to host the Vikings.