The budget bill that passed out of the House and Senate today includes sizeable cuts to the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Genomics. The partnership, which is a joint venture between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, will lose $427,000 in this budget cycle. It includes a permanent $427,000 cut per year into the future.
I talked with Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, shortly after the House vote. She decided to vote "no" on the budget bill in part due to this provision. She said that the House version of the bill included language that the genomics partnership could not be cut beyond those levels. But that language got stripped out of the bill, opening the door to possibility of more cuts in the future made by the university.
"They keep going in and balancing their budget on the genomics partnership and I am just tired of it," Norton said.
The partnership generally expects to receive $8 million per year. That money is used to fund research projects that can lead to commercialized projects and/or significantly improve human health. Dr. Eric Wieben, Mayo Clinic project leader for the partnership, said the funding cut will likely mean one less funded project per year.
"That is an opportunity lost, but on the other hand this is a difficult budget year and we understand that the legislature is doing their best to balance all the state's priorities," he said.
The bill passed solves one-third of the state's nearly $1 billion budget deifict. It now heads to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty who has said he is open to signing it.