House, Senate hash out University of Minnesota funding differences

Aside from the University of Minnesota’s multimillion-dollar request for construction and upkeep projects throughout its five-campus system, more state dollars are on the line this session.

A conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers got one step closer to finalizing how much funding the state will appropriate for research at the University on Tuesday.

State leaders will decide on final bills before the end of the week. After that, the full House and Senate will vote on a single version before it heads to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

Here’s what Minnesota legislators are currently mulling:

Terrestrial invasive species research center

The House has set aside $5.3 million for a new “virtual center” to focus on ways to stop the spread of invasive species, like the emerald ash borer. The Senate version includes just $560,000 for the project.

Regenerative medicine

Also included in the House bill is a one-time $450,000 boost for regenerative medicine research at the University, which includes studies on stem cell treatments.

The Senate version includes a much larger amount — $5 million each year until 2015. It also requests that an advisory group with at least one member from the University decides how to best utilize the funds.

Forever Green initiative

The decades-long planned project outlines strategies to increase Minnesota’s crop yields by keeping winter-hardy crops and perennials in the soil year-round. The Senate included $1.2 million for the effort in its bill. The House didn’t include any funding for the initiative.

Swine disease research

The University hopes to continue its effort of combating a deadly swine epidemic through further research. The House recommended $1.2 million for the University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to fight the virus. The Senate included $100,000 for the effort.

UMD financial help

The Senate set aside $2.5 million to help the University’s Duluth campus stabilize its operational budget. The House didn’t include any funding relief.

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