Pawlenty proposes using stimulus money to restore U funding

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to use money from the federal stimulus package to help fund the University of Minnesota during the upcoming biennium, he said at a press conference unveiling his revised budget proposals on Tuesday.

Pawlenty had proposed a $151 million cut to the University’s budget over the next two years. On Tuesday, Pawlenty said he would use $304 million from the federal stimulus bill to eliminate that cut, as well as one to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and boost funding for the Pell grant program.

Under Pawlenty’s plan, $424 million in stimulus money would also go to increase K-12 education funding.

“This is going to give them, in relative terms, good news,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty again called for both the University and the MnSCU system to cap tuition increases.

In January, Pawlenty had called for a nearly 10 percent cut in higher education funding. Last week, DFL leadership in the Senate announced a plan to cut spending across the board by 7 percent each of the next two bienniums.

Higher education funding for the 2010-11 biennium would total more than $3.1 billion with the one-time money from the stimulus package under Pawlenty’s plan. During the 2012-13 biennium, Pawlenty would spend $2.8 billion on higher education.

The state faces a nearly $6.4 billion budget deficit which Pawlenty and the Legislature must balance this session.

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