Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate finished their work this week on a higher education bill that slashes funding for Minnesota’s higher education institutions, and returns the state to 1998 funding levels.
“We are continuing to see the devastating effects of the Republican’s all-cut budget,” said State Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul. “As our universities and colleges work to reduce the impact these cuts will have on tuition, we will likely see faculty and staff reductions, enrollment caps, reductions in the size and scope of course and program offerings, and reductions in student services.”
The Higher Education Conference Committee, made up of only Republican legislators, voted this week to approve major budget reductions to the state’s colleges and universities. The GOP budget reduces the University of Minnesota (U of M) funding by $243 million (19 percent) and cuts $180 million (14 percent) from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. This approach will send the funding level for higher education back more than a decade, even though higher education enrollment in the state has increased by 70,000 during that time.
Beyond the significant cuts for the U of M and MnSCU, the bill also includes:
• Controversial language prohibiting the use of state or federal funds, for state programs, to support human cloning or for expenses incidental to human cloning. No one supports human cloning but the language is so broad it includes vital stem cell research.
• A 12.5% cut for the Office of Higher Education – the state agency that provides students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to post-secondary education.
• A tuition cap for both the U of M and MnSCU Universities at 5% in 2012 and 4% in 2013.
“By 2018, 70% of jobs in Minnesota will require education beyond high school,” said Sen. Pappas. “These reductions will severely damage our ability to keep up with that demand, hurting our state’s ability to prepare the next generation of workers. This legislation is a clear indication that our students, the state’s future workforce, and investing in the state’s economy are not priorities for the Republicans.”
Sen. Pappas is the DFL lead on the Senate Higher Education Committee. For additional information, she may be contacted at 651-296-1802, firstname.lastname@example.org, 143 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 5515, or on Facebook.