By Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV

— University of Minnesota’s Medical School took its worries over budget cuts to state lawmakers Tuesday.

To help ease a $5 billion budget deficit, Gov. Mark Dayton has suggested a 6 percent cut in state funding to the U of M. However, some lawmakers are asking University administrators to outline the potential impacts of 15 percent to 20 percent cuts.

Tuition costs, research and medical care are all at stake, according to testimony before the House Higher Education and Finance Committee.

Dr. Patricia Dickman is beginning a career in Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, but worries the opportunity may be out reach for others if state budget cuts force a big jump in tuition.

“The average debt of one of my medical school classmates was $200,000 last year,” said Dickmann. “The U is, I believe, one of the three most expensive (medical schools) in the country right now.”

“Each dollar of state investment … is leverage to $9 in grants and research and for taking care of patients,” said Dr. Aaron Friedman, who is the dean of the Medical School.

Friedman said the medical school has produced 70 percent of the medical professionals practicing in Minnesota and leads the nation in turning out doctors practicing family medicine. They are helping to address issues, he said, that are increasingly important as our population ages.

Dr. Daniel Garry said partnerships with the bio-tech industry could falter. Holding up a preserved human heart with a pacemaker attached said, “Ultimately, this technology spawned a $16 billion industry … the Fridley-based company Medtronic.”

University President Bob Bruininks also addressed lawmakers. He told them 15 percent cuts in state payments would force the cost the University to make about $100,000,000 in spending cuts and put entire schools and campuses around the state at risk for closure.

Comments (3)
  1. LoveItOrLeaveIt says:

    Leading the nation in producing the most family practitioners is reason alone to keep the cuts low, as our Governor recommends. Getting $9 back for every $1 that the State invests is another good reason. In their zeal to balance the budget, our lawmakers should be very careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. As a nation, we need highly educated people in order to compete on the global market. Cutting so much that it would force the University’s closing of entire schools and campuses is not conducive to encouraging our young men and women to get a college education. If campuses are closed and more and more of our youth go out of state for their education, they will have to pay more in tuition, and ultimately decide NOT to come back to Minnesota. Our state and our citizens can’t afford those types of dastardly results.

  2. vocallocal says:

    It is a tragedy that Mn legislators are definite in their decision to cut educational budgets. This is a demonstration as to how out of touch Mn elected officials are with what is happening within the United States. The current economic decline in the United States is stemming from the use of slave labor by major corporations who have the ability to pay governments for the use of their most expensive resource – their people.

    This means that in this global economy, the United States, and Minnesota have got to produce more educated people who can think or innovate stagnate industries or create whole new industries in order to be competitive and create jobs.

    Cutting the educational budget is a step in the wrong direction – there are other areas of government that can be REFORMED to achieve a reduction in Mn government spending and reducing the debt.

    Public Safety saw a new law last year providing the requirement for the Ignition Interlock device to be deployed into vehicles of DUI offenders. The advent of this new law means that the 4 in 10 DUI law can be replealed saving Mn $1 Billion in taxes. Last year Gov. Pawlenty took $1.8 Billion from Mn educational budget and used it to pay the Public Safety budget of $1.8 Billion.

    Repealing the 4 in 10 DUI law in Mn would save the court systems of Mn from being clogged, and reduce the need for probation officers in Mn. The public safety budget is continuing to grow but it does not need too if the 4 in 10 DUI law is repealed. It is illogical to continue funding a law that is choking money out of tax payers when there is already an alternate Felony DUI law on the books in Minnesota coupled with the new Ignition Interlock law.

    Save $1 Billion by repealing the 4 in 10 DUI law in Mn and save educational budgets in the process.