PASSED AND SIGNED INTO LAW
DID NOT PASS
Members of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee discussed changing the University Board of Regents selection process. Critics of the current process say it is too political and candidates who have not been properly vetted are chosen for the Board by legislators. Last session, candidates were eventually appointed who had not applied or been initially interviewed by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council. The Board of Regents has 12 members. Eight must reside in Minnesota’s congressional districts – one from each district – and four members hold at-large positions.
Certain proposals allowed the Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC) to recruit, interview, and recommend to the Legislature only the at-large candidates up for election or re-election. Currently, the RCAC has this duty for all candidates. The RCAC has 24 members representing the public at large. The eight congressional seats would be recommended by legislative delegations. Final votes on all recommended candidates would be taken during a joint convention of the House and Senate.
One proposal repealed the RCAC completely and established the Legislative Commission on Regent Selection. It changed the commission membership make up to include four House and four Senate members, evenly divided between majority and minority parties. It also provided for consultation with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, current and former regents, and the U of M administration to develop the selection criteria and responsibilities and duties of a regent. Legislators could continue to nominate candidates that haven’t been vetted by the commission in both the joint committee and convention. The commission must recommend at least one, and not more than three, candidates for each regent vacancy and submit its recommendations by January 15 to the joint legislative committee.
Supplemental budget – SF 3656
The budget shortchanges tens of thousands of Minnesotans who attend our state’s colleges and universities at a time when student debt is spiraling out of control. It appropriates just $3 million in new funding, with $0 for the University of Minnesota. An additional $1 million in re-purposed funding from unspent revenues from the Two-Year Occupational Pilot program initiated by former Sen. LeRoy Stumpf is also made available.
The $3 million in additional funding is split between the Office of Higher Education and MinnState for various programs that are listed below. The $500,000 appropriated to the Office of Higher Education (OHE) is to be spent on student state grants programs ($300,000); Ag Educators Loan Forgiveness ($100,000); student loan debt counseling ($50,000); and teacher preparation program design grant ($50,000).
Of the $3.5 million MinnState appropriation, $3 million is for campus operations and maintenance, and $500,000 is for the renewal of Workforce Development scholarships.
The budget also includes policy provisions favored by OHE and changes the membership of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council (RCAC), requiring at least one member from each congressional district. A provision that would allow the RCAC to only use candidate information gleaned through interviews was deleted from the bill. The MinnState Board of Trustees must develop a plan to increase use of affordable textbooks and instructional materials.