Senate Higher Education Bill Is a Disappointing Investment in Students
St. Paul, Minn. – Last night, the Senate passed the omnibus higher education budget which included small investments in Minnesota State, the University of Minnesota, and the Office of Higher Education. The bill fell short of investments recommended by both systems, the Governor, and the House. Senator Clausen released the following statement.
“The bill we passed last night was a disappointing step in supporting Minnesota’s higher education system,” said Sen. Clausen. “Over the past 15 years, our state has seen a historic disinvestment in Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota. During economic downturns, higher education was cut to fill budget deficits. Now, as the state faces a $1.65 billion surplus, it is time to reinvest those funds. Unfortunately, this bill fails to even keep pace with system needs from the past two years, making this bill yet another disinvestment in higher education.”
“It is my hope that during negotiations with the House and Governor, we can increase funding to Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota, as well as fund additional programs within the Office of Higher Education,” Clausen continued. “I am disappointed that we did not invest more in the state grant, student loan counseling, student loan debt refinancing, concurrent enrollment training, career and technical continuing education, and more which would help reduce the cost of college.”
“I applaud the push for a tuition freeze at Minnesota State, but with no money allocated to pay for it, schools will likely be forced to cut staff, programs, and classes,” Clausen added. “College affordability is important, but not at the cost of dramatically lowering the quality of education. In fact, unfunded tuition mandates can actually lead to a rise in the cost of college. For many, fewer class options lead to additional semesters when degrees cannot be completed on time. As such, I voted with my DFL colleagues in committee to cover the cost of a freeze and actually lower tuitions at Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota while paying for those requests. This would help make college more affordable without placing a burden elsewhere on students through lower quality education.”
“I commend the Chair for working within a low target and keeping most controversial policy provisions out of the bill. I truly believe she is committed to supporting higher education in Minnesota. As we continue this process, I look forward to working with her, members of the committee, members of the House, and the Governor to increase our investments in higher education,” Clausen concluded.