By Kayley Schoonmaker
MSCSA Vice President
This year is a bonding year at the state legislature. Every first year of the biennium, the legislature creates and passes the state budget. The second year of the biennium, the legislature focuses on passing a bonding bill. The state uses bonds, which are basically promises to repay the money borrowed, to fund different projects around Minnesota. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system also requests bonds to maintain the buildings on our colleges and improve the quality of our facilities. There are three different types of bonds to keep in mind:
General Obligation (G.O.) bonds – Bonds that must be for a public purpose and paid off within twenty years. This type of bond is used for most new buildings and major renovations on our campuses. The state pays for two-thirds of project costs, while the MnSCU system and individual campus splits the remaining one-third.
Revenue Fund – The revenue fund is used for projects that can generate revenue on their own. Parking ramps, residence halls, and student centers are a few examples. User fees or student fees generate the revenue. The fee covers the debt on the bond and operating costs. This is also a twenty-year loan, and students pay for 100% of these projects through fees. These bonds are not managed by the legislature, but the legislature determines the amount of authority MnSCU has to issue these bonds.
Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) – HEAPR dollars are used to remodel, repair, and maintain current facilities so that they are safe, warm, and dry. The state pays for 100% of these projects.
Because this year is a bonding year, MSCSA will be working hard to ensure that our campuses projects are funded. Every bonding year, the MnSCU system creates a request to the legislature that identifies our priorities. This year’s request asks for $130.6 million in HEAPR dollars and every campus has a HEAPR project. Students are highly encouraged to find the HEAPR projects on their campus, take pictures of them, and submit them to MSCSA.
Many of our campuses also have projects with G.O. bond requests including Lake Superior College, Rochester Community and Technical College, Century College, and Northland Community and Technical College. In total, the request asks for $227.7 million from the state, plus an additional $58.8 million pledged by the MnSCU system to finance the debt service on G.O. bond projects. The Minnesota House and Senate Capital Investment Committees are touring schools to get a look at the bonding projects on MnSCU’s list. We have had student presence at the tours that have already happened and will continue to help recruit students for the upcoming tours. This is a great opportunity for students to advocate for their campus projects. For a complete, detailed list of all the different projects, you can get in touch with MSCSA President Charpentier-Berg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit this website:
In February, we will be hosting Advocacy Day. At this event, we get all of our students together and coordinate meetings with their lawmakers. During these meetings we will advocate for our legislative agenda, which may include support for HEAPR or other elements of the MnSCU bonding request. This day is going to be an incredible experience and I encourage all campuses to attend. Okay everyone, get ready to bond!