Senator Greg Clausen responds to November Budget Forecast with plea to invest in higher education
SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Late last week Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) announced a budgetary balance of $1.544 billion in the new biennium and $456 million in the following biennium. MMB experts warn economic growth will start to slow in the years ahead.
Sen. Greg Clausen released the following statement:
“A $1.544 million budgetary balance is great news for our state. It demonstrates that Minnesota’s economy is stable and enjoys modest growth. However, budget officials are predicting significant economic volatilely in the future, which is nothing to take lightly. I strongly urge my colleagues to pass a fiscally responsible budget with prudent investments — such as responsible funding for higher education to keep tuition down, rein in student loan debt and address our workforce shortage.
Multiple studies demonstrate the catastrophic effect that student loan debt has already begun to take on our economy. Student loan debt not only negatively affects students, but it also impacts the economy by preventing graduates from making durable investments, such as houses and cars, that have historically kept our economy moving and healthy. Student loan balances by those in their thirties have doubled, further increasing the delay of these traditional lifestyle choices that stimulate our economy. Given the fact that Minnesota has the fifth highest student debt load in the nation, we cannot continue to ignore slowing down the growth of the cost of college.
Because of drops in state funding levels, the University of Minnesota’s tuition is about 83 percent higher than the national average for a four- year college, which is $6,841 per year. The school’s average student ends up with $26,000 of debt after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. That’s just not acceptable.
Additionally, we are not investing in higher education programs to address our workforce and labor shortage. A skilled workforce is critical to the state’s continued economic growth. In light of this, we must invest in programs to meet the rapidly changing needs of business through expanded technical opportunities, tax credits for business that provide training and funding for employee training at companies.”
MMB will release a revised budget forecast for the new biennium in February 2019. The Governor uses the February forecast as a final point of reference to propose a new two-year state budget for lawmakers to consider.